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K.C.B., K.C.S.I. 

R.E., V.C. 






HIS memoir of General Sir James Browne has 

1 been drawn up in compliance with the wishes 
of the late Lady Browne, and is based on informa- 
tion kindly given by his family and friends and 
brother officers. 

My hearty thanks are due to General Pollard, 
General Sir Alexander Taylor, and Colonel Henry 
Blair — all of them Royal Engineers — with whom 
Sir James was associated throughout the whole of 
his career ; also to the late General Sir Michael 
Biddulph, Sir G. Molesworth, General Sir R. Sankey ; 
Colonels Burn-Murdoch and Boughey, with whom 
he served from time to time in Engineer or Military 
operations ; and most especially to General Sir 
Buchanan Scott, his invaluable second in the stu- 
pendous task of the Hurnai Railway. 

Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, under whose command 
in India he served as Quartermaster-General of the 
army, said of him, with emphasis, " He was grand ! " 

For advice in regard to Browne's Frontier Policy, 
I am very greatly indebted to Sir D. Fitzpatrick, 
lately Governor of the Punjab. 

J. J. M. I. 

December, 1904. 






James Browne introduced — His Father, Dr. Robert Browne — 
His Childhood and Boyhood in France and Germany — 
Preparations for India. 



India under Lord Dalhousie — The First Year of Lord Canning's 
Rule — The Course of the Mutiny — Robert Browne's Adven- 
tures, Services, and Death during the Mutiny — Changes in 
the State of India after the Mutiny. 



The Wuzeeree Campaign — Browne joins under Pollard's Com- 
mand — Wuzeeree Characteristics — A Night Attack — Ad- 
vance of the Force — Capture of Kanagorum and Makeen, 
and End of the War — Work at Attock — Local Fanaticism. 



Work at Attock — The Bara Bridge — Experience of a Flooded 
River — Browne's Methods — Punjab Frontier Division. 






Change in the Frontier Administration— Rise of Fanaticism 
under Patna Propagandists — Preparations against the Sitana 
Fanatics— The Umbeyla Campaign— The British Position- 
British Attack and Victory. 


lord Lawrence's viceroyalty : 1864-9 .... 84 

Browne and the Frontier System — The Two Policies : the " For- 
ward Policy" and " Masterly Inactivity" — How the Mullah 
Episode Began— Furlough, Marriage, and the Roorkee Ap- 
pointment — Lahore — The Kangra Valley. 


lord mayo's viceroyalty: 1869-72 .... 106 

Lord Mayo's Rule — Russian Movements— Lord Mayo's Frontier 
Policy — Settlement of the Frontier 

foreign politics and the sukkur bridge: 187 1-6 . 115 

Furlough : Engineer Travels — Sukkur Bridge — The Cantilever 
System — Lord Northbrook's Rule — Russian Advance — 
Suppression of Slave Trade — Afghanistan and Russia. 



Lord Lytton's Preparation for the Viceroyalty — His Arrival in 
India — Palmerston's Views about Russian Methods — 
History and Character of Beloochistan. 



Further History of Browne's Double — Brown in the Cutchee — 
Colley sent to Beloochistan — Lord Lytton's Policy — Russia's 
Movements — Browne's Post on the Kakur Frontier. 





EVE OF THE AFGHAN WAR : 1877-8 167 

Keeping open the Kakur Door— The Mullah Episode again — 
Russian Intrigues— The Ameer's Proceedings — Lord Lytton's 


THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 . . 182 

Start of the Afghan War — Browne with Sir Donald Stewart's 
Force — Entry into Candahar — Khelat-i-Ghilzie and Girishk 
— Stewart's Memorandum on the Strategical and Political 
Value of Candahar — Thul Chotiali Expedition. 


TWO YEARS ON FURLOUGH : 1 879-8 1 . . . .201 

On Furlough — Russian Studies — Paris — A Fortress Episode — 
Candahar Question — Death of Colonel Pierson — End of 
Lord Lytton's Rule. 


THE EGYPTIAN WAR : 1 882 2l8 

The Egyptian War — General Sketch — Palmer's Expedition and 
Death — Details of the Campaign as regards the Indian 
Contingent — Deductions from the Campaign. 


THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1 882-3 229 

Simla after Return from Egypt — The Hurnai Railway — Pre- 
liminary Measures — The Cutchee Mess — Difficulties of the 
Engineering Work. 


THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 2 4% 

The Difficulties encountered in the Works of the Hurnai Rail* 
way — Its Construction — The Opening Ceremony. 






The Penjdeh Incident — Browne's Appointment as Q.M.G. in 
India — His Views on the Position of Affairs. 


quartermaster-general: 1889-92 276 

General Work as Q.M.G. — Special Subjects dealt with — Frontier 
Expeditions — Black Mountain Expedition — The Russian 
and Persian Question — Zhob Valley Expedition — Frontier 

beloochistan : 1888-94 . 293 

Browne's Appointment to the Agency of Khelat and Beloochistan 
— Close of Sandeman's Rule — Affairs of Khelat — Deposition 
of the reigning Khan — British Beloochistan — The High 
Courts — Public Works and Improvements in the Province. 



Two Great Durbars at Quetta — The Durbar of 1893 held by 
Sir James Browne — His Speech — Lord Elgin's Speech at 
the Durbar of 1893 — Installation of the Khan of Khelat as 
Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire. 


AFGHANISTAN '. 1 888-96 . 327 

Frontier Administration and Policy — Punjab and Beloochistan 
contrasted — Last Phase of the Mullah Episode. 


Close of Memoir — Close of Career and Death. 




Sir James Browne .... 

Soubahdar Gunga Singh 


Umbeyla Pass, and British Position . 

Browne's Concrete Arch, Kangra Valley 

Group of Portraits — Sir Neville Chamberlain, 
Macpherson, Sir Alexander Taylor, Colonel 
Colonel Sir Buchanan Scott . 

Beloochee Chief and Two Sons 

The Miri— The Quetta Fort 

Crossing the Khojak Pass . 

Candahar in the Far Distance 

Panorama of Khelat-i-Ghilzie 

Panorama of Khelat-i-Ghilzie 

Siazgaie Table Mountain 

Sir W. G. Nicholson . 

Rosebery View, Chuppur Rift 

Tunnels along Edge of the Chuppur Rift 

Mouth of a Chuppur Rift Tunnel 

Louise Margaret Bridge, Chuppur Rift 

Louise Margaret Bridge in Progress . 

Louise Margaret Bridge in Progress . 

Sir James Browne as Q.M.G. 

The Marquis of Lansdowne 

Sir Herbert 
Henry Blair, 


Facing page 

Two Khans of Khelat, Heir, and Attendants .... 300 

Mekran ... 306 

Sir James Browne, Family, and Start" at Quetta . . . 308 

Quetta Ceremonial : Installation of Khan of Khelat . . . 314 

Lord Roberts and Staff at Quetta 320 

Quetta Durbar Hall 324 

Quetta Residency 348 




HE scene opens in Calcutta. The year 1859 had 

1 entered its closing quarter. All India had settled 
down into profound peace after the great con- 
vulsion. The Mutiny had been crushed. No longer 
did a vestige of rebellion linger anywhere in the land ; 
and the closing act of retribution had been quite 
recently carried out, when Tantia Topee, the ablest 
of the leaders of the enemy, had expiated his crimes 
on the gallows at Cawnpore — the very site of the 
supreme atrocity, to which he had been more than 
consenting. The exciting times of 1857 were begin- 
ning to be regarded as almost ancient history. Her 
Most Gracious Majesty had assumed the sovereignty 
and rule of the land ; Lord Canning was now her 
Viceroy, as well as Governor-General of India ; and 


the event had, as it were, been blazoned in the 
heavens by the portent of a brilliant comet. 

Nowhere was there even the gentlest of breezes 
on the face of the waters, except perhaps, it might 
be thought, at the city and port of Calcutta, where 
the season cynically called the " Cold Weather " was 
assumed to have set in. 

This little breeze or rippling of the waters was due 
to the outbreak of war with China, and to the local 
preparations for an expeditionary force that was 
to start from Calcutta to take part in the campaign 
there. These preparations were being vigorously 
pressed forward — the more vigorously that the des- 
tined leader of that force, Sir Robert (afterwards 
Lord) Napier, was present on the spot to see to them. 
This appointment of Sir Robert, and all that it implied, 
will be dealt with more fully further on. 1 Here it 
suffices to mention that, as an epoch in the annals 
of the Royal Engineers, the corps to which he be- 
longed, this command in China caused much pleasure, 
and no little excitement, among them. 

At the same time, while the Engineers in Calcutta 
were elated with the improved prospects thus opening 
out to the corps, the periodical season for a little 
regimental curiosity and interest had arrived in the 
accession to their numbers of young officers from 
England — a curiosity which on this occasion was 
somewhat greater than usual, owing to the rumours 
that were afloat regarding one of them. He was 
written and spoken of as exceptional and unique ; 
of an independent turn of mind and quite un- 
conventional ; of powerful physique, but with no 
swagger ; able and many-sided, but without any 
assumption; not by any means in the Admirable 

1 See page 103. 



Crichton style, but a good sort all round — genial, 
humorous, and a capital comrade ; lastly, a true Scot, 
and given to " ganging his ain gait." He was said to 
have been brought up on the Continent, and to know 
and do all manner of things that no one else ever 
thought of doing or knowing. Thus ran the rumour, 
but rumours are apt to be tinged with exaggeration. 

The youngster's name was James Browne, but he 
was said to be more generally and more distinctively 
known as " Buster " — a name without a meaning, but 
with an expressive, buoyant, vigorous sort of sound, 
and one that he had inherited from an elder brother, 1 
who had met his fate in Havelock's advance to the 
rescue of the Lucknow Residency garrison. 

Young Browne duly reached Calcutta, and, for 
once, rumour had not been lying. He was found 
to answer the expectations that had been formed ; but, 
not being allowed to join the force for China as he 
had hoped, he made but a brief stay in the metropolis, 
and embarked forthwith on his career in Upper India, 
where every Bengal Engineer available was urgently 

The earlier pages of James Browne's career will 
show how thoroughly his education and the formation 
of his character and proclivities were due to the home 
education and personal guidance of his father, Dr. 
Robert Browne; and, at the same time, it cannot be 
questioned that the father was in all material points — 
moral, mental, and physical — the prototype of the son. 
Before, then, entering on " Buster's" own career, a few 
words wilL now be said respecting Dr. Robert Browne's 

Our scene therefore goes back half a century, and 
shifts from Calcutta to Scotland — to the historical 

1 An account of him will be found at page 22. 


district and town of Falkirk, of old the storm-swept 
outpost of Stirling Castle, the ancient citadel of the 
kingdom, peopled by a hard and sturdy race. 

Robert Browne stands before us, a lad born and 
brought up in the manse of his father, the parish 
minister, widely known as a divine and a scholar. 
Imbued with the spirit and the lessons acquired 
from the old church at his door, then about to be 
restored, and from its relics, the tombs and monuments 
of the Scottish heroes of olden days, what wonder 
if Robert Browne was led, while still a boy, to adopt 
a career for himself, to quit his father's home and 
to go for further study and special training to one 
of the Scottish universities — Edinburgh, Aberdeen, or 
St. Andrews ! 

The times were exceptional and exciting. The war 
with France was in full swing; our empire in the 
East was advancing at a momentous pace; while 
Australia, Canada, and Greater Britain generally, were 
taking shape. Hence, felt Robert Browne, his career 
must be in foreign lands. So he now, while still 
a boy, joined the Universities first of St. Andrews 
and then of Edinburgh, and, helping his finances by 
tutoring and bursarships, as was the habit of the 
times, studied finally in the science and other classes, 
and won his position in the medical profession. 

By this time, however, there was a certain amount 
of retrogression in young men's prospects, for 
Waterloo had been fought, and with "gentle peace 
returning " there was a glut in the market of aspirants 
for employment ; and this resulted in Browne's starting 
in life as the doctor of a vessel on the India and 
Australia Line. While thus engaged he had an 
opportunity of showing his worth when a grave 
epidemic, from which he was himself a severe sufferer, 



broke out in his ship. His skill and conduct attracted 
attention, especially from some of the older and more 
experienced passengers, by one of whom, Captain 
Whiteman, he was induced and helped to start in 
practice in Calcutta. Captain Whiteman further 
remained a warm friend through life, and eventually 
becoming a director of the East India Company, gave 
appointments in its service to all Dr. Browne's 

Dr. Browne then started on his career in Calcutta, 
and was successful in his practice, both with the 
English residents and with the native community. 
Among his habitual patients was a Mr. Van Plasker, 
a Dutch merchant who had lost his English wife, 
and whose only daughter was receiving her education 
in England. When, in due course, she returned 
to India to join her father, he was ill, and asked 
Dr. Browne to meet her on arrival and escort her 
to her home. This meeting resulted eventually in 
their marriage ; and four years later, there being then 
no further necessity for remaining in India, and as 
their children would probably thrive better in an 
English climate, they left Calcutta in 1835. 

After revisiting old friends and old scenes in 
England and Scotland they moved over to France, 
and at first lived at single anchor, so to speak, at 
Tours and Paris and at Le Havre, where James, 
their youngest child — the subject of this memoir — 
was born, on September 16th, 1839. 

One point only need be mentioned in regard to 
their stay at Le Havre. It is that another of the 
English families resident there was that of Mr. 
Charles Pierson, with whom the Brownes formed 
a strong and lasting friendship. Their eldest son, 
William Henry Pierson, of nearly the same age as 


James Browne, became afterwards his class-fellow 
at Cheltenham, and eventually his brother officer in 
the Royal Engineers. Further, in still later years, 
as will be seen, James Browne married the Piersons' 
only daughter. 

James Browne, then, was born in France towards 
the end of 1839, and spent his childhood there till 
1847, when the whole family migrated to Germany, 
first to Frankfort and afterwards to Bonn. The eldest 
son, John, had been born in India, and was some five 
or six years older than James. The second son, 
Robert, was born at Tours, and was only about a 
year his senior ; and these two, Robert and James, 
the youngest of the whole family, were devoted to 
each other. From Germany the family returned for 
a couple of years to France, to Boulogne, and then, 
at the end of 1854, crossed over finally to England. 

Throughout these first fifteen years of James's life, 
Dr. Browne, as already casually mentioned, super- 
vised fully and personally the education of all the 
three sons, adopting lines which were continuous 
throughout — whether in France or in Germany — and 
wholly different, intentionally, from those customary 
in the schools of England or Scotland. All religious 
instruction was given at home, very carefully and 
fully, as also a scholarly training in French and 
German, and in classics and history, especially 
Indian history, all of which the boys were taught 
direct and wholly by Dr. Browne. They went to 
the local classes, or gymnasia, for most other sub- 
jects of education and for such sciences as astronomy 
and geology, in which they became specially interested 
through the friendship of men on the spot, eminent 
in these subjects. There were no boys' games, as in 
England. There had been none in Scotland during 



Dr. Browne's youth. But athletics, swimming, fencing, 
and the like, were taught in local special schools. 

All this implied a boyhood — a life — an education — 
very different from that of boys in England or 
Scotland ; but the home life and the constant associa- 
tion with the families of their French and German 
friends formed a distinctive and effective feature of 
the education involved. 

In holiday seasons they habitually revelled in 
walking tours with Dr. Browne, in such regions as 
Switzerland and the Black Forest, so that as the sons 
grew out of boyhood they had the experience and 
self-reliance of young men. 

It may be added that from the earliest years James 
Browne developed an exceptional love and turn for 
music. It was a great joy and solace to him through 
life, though he was never actually taught music or 
singing properly or scientifically or as a lesson. 
There seems to have been, at one time, an idea or 
fear that his strong love of it might be prejudicial 
to his practical career. 

Such were the education and life that helped 
to form James Browne's personality and character 
by the time he was emerging out of boyhood, and 
on the eve of joining a public school in England, 
preparatory to special training for India. Though 
a thorough boy in heart, he was a man in mind and 
bent, even to being led and accustomed by his recent 
experiences to watch public affairs, to think of them, 
and to arrive at independent conclusions, not always 
those that might be popular or in fashion. 

During all his years on the Continent stirring 
events had been going on in India, and the thoughts 
and attention of the family had been much turned 
towards them — such as the war and disaster in 


Afghanistan, the conquest of Scinde, the war with 
Gwalior, and the first conflicts with the Sikhs; and 
latterly there had been the Punjab and Burma wars, 
followed by the annexations of those countries. 

It may be observed, while dealing with this subject, 
that Dr. Browne, having before him the probability 
of a career in India for his sons, seems to have been 
careful to impress on them the evil in India of any 
bearing to the natives other than kindly, sympathetic, 
and friendly, and the importance of avoiding harsh- 
ness and arrogance. During the time of his own 
residence in India no ground had arisen for bitter- 
ness or race antagonism. British arms and influence 
and methods were dominating the land and intro- 
ducing order and social improvement. But, with all 
this, the mutual relations of the English and the 
natives — especially in Calcutta — had been excellent 
and kindly, and Dr. Browne had very successfully 
impressed on his sons such characteristics of the 
natives as formed the habitual features of the race 
in general. 

In these later years a period of embroglios had 
begun in Europe itself — Italy and Bavaria, Austria 
and Hungary; and also France, especially Paris, 
had been the scene of war, revolts, or revolution; 
and Louis Napoleon had become emperor before the 
family came to reside temporarily in Boulogne ; so 
that the time of " Buster's" youth had not been specially 
pacific. Then, at the end of 1854, the Crimean war 
had begun; and the family moved over to England 
to prepare James Browne for service in India, his 
elder brothers having already preceded him, for the 
same purpose. 

It will be remembered 1 that Dr. Browne had, in 
1 Vide page 5. 


his young days, gained the friendship of his fellow- 
passenger, Captain Whiteman. This gentleman had 
now, in his older years, become a director of the 
East India Company, and remembering his early 
friend, he gave him appointments in the service of 
that company for all his three sons — one for the 
Civil Service to the eldest, John, and two Addiscombe 
cadetships for the younger ones, Robert and James ; 
and it was in connection with these openings that 
Dr. Browne, as already shown, had sent John and 
Robert to England to prepare, the one at Oxford 
for Haileybury, and the other at school for Addis- 
combe. And now that these two elder sons were on 
the point of joining Haileybury and Addiscombe 
respectively, Dr. Browne, with his whole family, 
crossed the Channel to England, and proceeded to 
Cheltenham, where they settled temporarily, placing 
James as a pupil in the College early in 1855, and 
where too they renewed their friendship with the 
Pierson family, already resident there. 

It was at Cheltenham 1 College, then, that James 
Browne entered, early in 1855, for his special education 
and preparation for the military service of India. Of 
course, at first, at this English school he created 
something of a sensation, for while he spoke English 
perfectly, without any accent, though with a sort of 
burr, still it was obvious that he had been brought 
up abroad and was new to the ways and habits and 
games of English schoolboys. Hence at the start 
there was a natural and inevitable tendency to make 
fun of him. But this soon ceased, as he was ex- 
ceptionally strong, hardy, and resolute, with the 
frame of an athlete, trained in the gymnasium both in 
Germany and France. Then his natural good-nature 

A memorial tablet to Sir James Browne has recently been put up. 


and his quaint humour won the day, and he forth- 
with became thoroughly popular and a leader in the 
school. He also, at once, took a good position in its 
classrooms, being placed in the highest form on the 
modern side, and standing at its head — neck and neck, 
both generally and especially in mathematics, with 
his Le Havre friend, Pierson. 

What surprised James Browne, as it had before 
surprised his elder brothers, was the singular igno- 
rance of the other boys in such general subjects as 
history and geography, as well as in foreign languages, 
and the neglect of them in the school course ; while 
at the same time there was no part of its recognised 
curriculum in which he found himself seriously be- 
hindhand. All honour, then, to the old Scot — tenax 
propositi — who had lined out and carried through his 
own scheme of education for his sons, and was bring- 
ing it to so successful an issue ! 

Browne remained at Cheltenham for that one year, 
1855, by the end of which the Crimean war was 
practically at an end, and the time had arrived to 
begin giving effect to the lessons which its blunders 
had taught the country — and also to develop, on 
a scale suitable to the greatness of England, other 
institutions and principles, of which the germs had 
been sown in the sensational fields of Crimean 
suffering and ardour, and with which the names of 
Florence Nightingale and of Hedley Vicars will ever 
be associated. Of the one, the fame is worldwide ; 
to the other may be justly attributed the rise and 
growth of that higher moral tone and conduct in the 
men who fill our ranks, which have gradually become 
so marked, especially of late. 

At the end of 1855, as Browne was to join Addis- 
combe in the following February, the family left 


1 1 

Cheltenham altogether, and took up their residence 
finally and permanently in London. 1 

His brother Robert had been already a year at 
Addiscombe, but had to remain on for another year to 
complete the residence required before he could get his 
commission ; and so he returned there, taking James 
with him and introducing him in February, 1856. He 
had begun to make his mark — was prominent among 
the cadets for his strength and prowess at football, 
and had been given the title of " Buster." As James 
soon showed similar qualities, he gradually became 
known as " young Buster," the " young" being dropped 
in course of time. This Addiscombe football was not 
at all an organised methodical game, such as that 
played at Rugby or elsewhere, even as described in 
"Tom Brown," but a very rough-and-tumble busi- 
ness, with much horse play and little skill. The late 
Sir Charles Bernard afterwards began to introduce 
the more correct game ; but he left Addiscombe early 
for Haileybury, and Addiscombe was itself abolished 
very shortly afterwards. 

Robert Browne left Addiscombe at the end of the 
year 1856, receiving a commission in the Bengal 
Native Infantry. He did not possess the particular 
gifts or mathematical bent that were essential to the 
securing of a high position in the Addiscombe lists, 
but he stood high in general subjects — and exception- 
ally well in the regard of his comrades, by whom 
he was thought likely to come strongly to the front 
in practical life. 

1 At 103, Gloucester Place, Portman Square. 



india under lord dalhousie — the first year of 
lord canning's rule — the course of the mutiny — 
robert browne's adventures, services, and death 
during the mutiny — changes in the state of 


NOW that Browne is about to start on his career 
in India it may be useful to describe the state 
of that country, the events that had been 
occurring, and the antecedent circumstances, with a 
view to a proper understanding of the unfortunate 
position of affairs which had resulted from them. 

This subject can be most conveniently dealt with 
in consecutive periods, of which the first is Lord 
Dalhousie's rule ; next, the first year of Lord Canning's 
rule — i.e. up to the first signs of the Mutiny; and 
third, the course of the Mutiny from its outbreak 
to its complete suppression and the restoration of 

These will now be described ; but reorganisation, 
the changes and rearrangements, administrative, 
military, and others, that were introduced in 1859 
after the Mutiny as the start of a new regime, will 
be dealt with separately. 

To proceed, then, first with the epoch of India 
under Lord Dalhousie : this period ended in 1856, 
and his last act had been the annexation of Oude, 



by which the territory included under "British India" 
had been brought within one huge unbroken ring 
fence. But with this enormous increase of territory 
there had been no really corresponding addition made 
to the arrangements for its military strength and 
security. Lord Dalhousie had asked for it from 
England, but had not received it to any adequate 
extent, owing, it is understood, to the exigencies and 
strain caused by the Crimean war ; so that, as an 
example of the weakness of the military situation, 
the great stretch of country between Delhi and 
Calcutta — some 900 miles — was, as regards British 
troops, garrisoned by only three regiments. 

The main strength of the English army was 
concentrated in the newly conquered Punjab, and 
on the Afghan frontier. The Punjab itself had been 
made thoroughly friendly at first by judicious and 
kindly treatment and light taxation. But latterly its 
chief ruler, the wise and beneficent Sir Henry 
Lawrence, had been moved away ; the financial 
screw had been applied ; the Sikh chieftains had 
been beggared, and the Sikh peasantry had felt the 
ignominy keenly. 

Over all India and especially in Upper India 
there had been an exceptional and beneficent increase 
in the measures for the material improvement of the 
country (as shown in Lord Dalhousie's Minute 1 ), 
coupled, however, with a less intimate intercourse 
with the people and a greater formality and rigidity 
in the administration of justice, with the resulting 
increase in chicanery and corruption. 2 And unfortu- 

1 See page 15. 

8 In the more southern regulation provinces this was so notorious 
as to be a chronic subject " pour rire. v There is an authentic case of 
a suit in which one party produced deeds—pure forgeries — to 


nately the most prominent and immediate result of 
these improvements was that malcontents and in- 
triguers had used them widespread to excite the 
fears and suspicions of the people as to the super- 
natural aims and evil designs of their English rulers. 

Meanwhile the seeds of ill-feeling that had arisen 
in the Sepoy army at the end of the Afghan war, 
owing largely to the loss of caste unavoidably entailed 
on the Hindoos by the exigencies of residence in a 
purely Mahomedan country, had been spreading 
rapidly, fostered and increased by the idea that the 
Government was indifferent to the matter. 

The great group of native states, from Rajpootana 
to the Deccan, was fairly loyal, owing to the wisdom 
of the British officers who were the residents of their 
respective courts; but there was a strong element of 
disaffection and uneasiness caused by Lord Dalhousie's 
widespread annexations and his opposition to the 
time-honoured practice of adopting heirs where none 
existed in the natural course of succession ; his 
inclination being to have recourse, instead, to the 
summary measure (as in the cases of Nagpore and 
Jhansi) of declaring the dynasty at an end and 
incorporating the state into British territory. 

Worst of all, there was prevalent among the whole 
native population, of all creeds and classes, a strong 
but generally vague religious agitation, based upon 
the prospect of some epoch, such as the centen- 
ary of Plassey, the prophesied advent of another 
Mahomedan prophet, the Emam Mehndee, and the 
like, as well as upon rumours of another class — traced 
to the notorious Moonshee Azimoolla — of the exhaus- 

authenticate his claim, and lo ! the other party (having got scent of 
it) produced at once in response complete receipts — equally pure 

forgeries — for the sum involved ! 



tion and depletion of the British army owing to its 
losses in the Crimea. 

Further, in addition to the indiscreet efforts of 
would-be missionaries, some perfectly justifiable and 
righteous efforts to suppress real and rooted mal- 
practices had increased the irritation of fanaticism 
and bigotry. Thuggee had been hunted out ; but 
Suttee was still carried on, female infanticide was 
sadly prevalent, and there is no doubt that the 
efforts to suppress them entirely had met with much 
dogged opposition. 

So that there was a very large and weighty mass 
of causes for disaffection and consequent anxiety ; and 
to it all Lord Dalhousie, when he was leaving, added 
his heaviest and most telling legacy — the annexation 
of Oude, the last and most important of the inde- 
pendent states, and the dethronement of its King : 
the King, be it remembered, of the Fatherland — the 
greatest nursery — of the Rajpoot Sepoys of the 
native army. 

This last was the final blow to the trust and fidelity 
of the Sepoy army of a century's growth ; and with 
the enactment of the next year, which will presently 
be described, that army was bound to subside. 

At the end of his reign Lord Dalhousie had tersely 
drawn up a list and statement, under 180 heads, of 
his widespread series of administrative reforms 
and arrangements, and measures for the material 
improvement of the country. His achievements for 
England do not require to be described. He 
had conquered and annexed the kingdoms of the 
Punjab and Lower Burma. He had taken the 
administration of the great province of Oude out of 
the hands of its Nawab, and placed it under our own 
officers. So that now all India — all Hindostan — was 


in a ring fence under British sway, and Runjeet 
Singh's prediction to Lord Metcalfe, " Sub lal ho 
jaega," 1 had been fulfilled. The whole map of India 
was now tinted red. Only one administrative reform 
did there appear to be which he had not carried 
through — the introduction of a budget and of scientific 
accounts and finance. That would have completed the 
task. So no wonder that paeans and congratulations 
and triumphant feelings pervaded England. 

Lord Dalhousie's departure for England and Lord 
Canning's assumption of the government of India 
having followed closely on the annexation of Oude, 
the first matter to be now dealt with is the 
immediate fate of that province and of its King and 

The administration of the province was left under 
the charge of Sir James Outram, a thoroughly capable 
ruler ; but he soon fell ill, and had to quit for England, 
leaving for his successor a most well-ordered and 
beneficent scheme for the settlement and government 
of the province. Its fate will be referred to presently, 
but in the meanwhile the action of the King and his 
court have to be dealt with. 

The King refused to remain at Lucknow, and came 
south with his whole court to Calcutta, sending some 
of his representatives to England to plead his cause. 
At the same time, two of the Sepoy regiments that 
had garrisoned Lucknow at and immediately before 
the annexation were — somewhat thoughtlessly it may 
be said — moved in the same direction — i.e. to the 
neighbourhood (i) of Calcutta, where the King of 
Oude now resided, and (2) of Moorshedabad, where 
was the palace of the former Nawabs of Bengal of 
Clive's days. 

1 " It will all be red." 



Thus early in 1857 there were concentrated about 
Calcutta the leading malcontents, the chief of the 
displaced monarchs, the most practised and skilful 
body of intriguers, and the most disaffected troops 
in India, the whole of them in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of our greatest arsenals and military 
factories. What, then, could be more natural, pro- 
bable, and easy than that these Oude intriguers should 
tamper with the troops and arsenal workmen, and 
bring about the suspicion — with the swiftly following 
cry — of " improperly greased cartridges," by which to 
contaminate and destroy the caste of the Sepoys who 
would have to use them ? This cry was followed at 
once by the mutiny of the two regiments already 
named, the 19th and 34th (which were forthwith 
disbanded), and by the " Greased Cartridge " cry 
flaring up and spreading, like wildfire, through the 
whole of the old Bengal Sepoy army. 

Meanwhile a war had begun with Persia, and was 
exciting and irritating the Mahomedans of India. 
Moreover, at the very same time, there was a large 
assemblage in Calcutta, for court ceremonials and 
interviews with Lord Canning, of some of the most 
powerful representatives of the old Indian royalties 
— such as Scindia, and others — affording the easiest 
and most effective of means for widespread conspiracy. 

In Oude, which had been left in a quiet and 
promising state by Sir James Outram, though its old 
rulers had since become the origin of the whole 
agitation, the interests of the Talookdars (the chiefs of 
the clans) and great landholders had been neglected, 
and they had become anxious, irritated, and at 
length angry ; but Sir Henry Lawrence now arrived, 
as their new ruler, early in 1857, i n the very nick 
of time, He at once acted promptly and wisely, and 



not only righted their wrongs, but made them friendly 
and cordial. Other malign influences, however, had 
been at work. 

The Wahabi Mahomedan sect at Patna had incited 
religious quarrels between the Hindoos and the 
Mussulmans through a couple of emissaries, Moulvies, 
at the rival shrines of the two creeds at Fyzabad in 
Oude ; and there had been some fighting, which too 
Sir Henry had at once suppressed. But these Moulvies 
were powerful and active leaders of fanaticism, and 
affected the whole country between Delhi and the 
east of Oude. 

General Anson, the Commander-in-chief, had never 
seen service ; was best known as a society man and 
a great whist player, and seemed either unequal or 
averse to the vigour called for by the crisis, or blind 
to its gravity. The troops in the provinces nearest 
Delhi were slow to concentrate, and though the 
mutiny at Meerut occurred on May ioth, the battle 
of Badli Ke Serai, with which the siege of Delhi 
began, was not fought till June 12th following — a 
lapse of more than a month, by which time the chief 
had died. Now the centenary of Plassey was June 
23rd ; so it was now beginning to be rather late for 
any overwhelming catastrophe to the empire to be 
brought about on or by that date ; and the most the 
enemy could make of it as an epoch or anniversary 
was to generalise the date into a period. 

Meanwhile, apparently, the first news of this state 
of affairs to attract attention at all in England was 
the intelligence of the actual Meerut outbreak of 
May ioth. No notice seems to have been taken 
of all the seething concomitants or previous causes 
of disaffection. 

But before this Lord Canning had in 1856, the 



previous year, added the most effective fuel to the fire 
by the publication of the General Service Act, under 
which Sepoys could henceforward enlist only for general 
service, and would have to cross the seas, go wherever 
they might be desired, and so become liable to indis- 
criminate breach of caste. This act was the most 
mischievous deed of all as regards the soldiery. The 
cry now in the homes of the Oude and other Hindoo 
Sepoys was, " What will our sons now have to do ? 
That which has been our business in life for the last 
hundred years is gone ! The Sepoy army, which has 
built up this empire for the great ' Company ' that 
employed it, is at an end ! An end of shame ! It 
behoves us to act for ourselves." 

Then at length early in May, 1857, a crisis about 
the cartridges arose at Meerut, and was bungled — 
the troops there mutinied and rushed to Delhi, forty 
miles off, where the city people joined them and pro- 
claimed the restoration of the Moghul empire; and 
thus began the war of the Mutiny, with the imperial 
city and fortress of Delhi as the gage of battle. 

The outbreak at Meerut and Delhi was so prema- 
ture as to upset the plans of those who were the 
conspirators of the revolt, and to give the Government 
time for some preparation. The only places where 
full advantage for that purpose was taken of the 
interval, were the Punjab and Lucknow. The only 
man in India who had really and fully foreseen 
the storm, and prepared strenuously for it before it 
developed, was Sir Henry Lawrence, who was at this 
juncture the head of the Government of Oude; and 
the people of the province now aided him heartily, 
with supplies and other needs. The one old warrior 
who scornfully refused to believe that the outbreak 
was serious was Sir Hugh Wheeler at Cawnpore, 


and he would not deign to make preparations to meet 
it, however strenuously urged by Sir Henry Lawrence 
to do so. The one province which met the crisis 
when it broke out with adequate, and more than 
adequate, vigour was the Punjab. There, too, 
fortunately, the foresight of Sir Herbert Edwardes 
had secured the integrity and safety of the frontier — 
(i) by a treaty with Dost Mahomed, and (2) by the 
presence with him of the Lumsden brothers ; and 
his personal influence there was at once leading the 
local and frontier tribes to side with the English 
and join them in large numbers, first for the Punjab 
itself, and then for the struggle at Delhi. 

The Sikhs were, for prudential reasons, not sent 
to the seat of war, but kept in the Punjab, and for 
a time some of the frontier regiments were the only 
troops sent to swell the army besieging Delhi. Then 
gradually additional troops of frontier men were raised 
and sent down with John Nicholson, and shortly 
afterwards Delhi was stormed, on September 14th. 

Cawnpore, not having been prepared, fell. Its fate 
need not be told here. 

Lucknow was the prolonged centre of conflict 
throughout the whole war, and in seven separate 
stages, thus : 

(1) For six weeks the improvised fort of Muchi 
Bhawan kept the city under control, until 

(2) the Residency position was prepared, and 
then, after the Chinhut fight, defended till 
September 25th, when 

(3) Havelock and Outram's reinforcements arrived 
to its rescue — only to be themselves beleaguered 
by the fugitive Delhi army till November 17th, 


(4) Sir Colin Campbell relieved and removed the 
whole garrison, 

(5) leaving Outram with a force at the Alum Bagh, 
on the outskirts of Lucknow, to hold the access 
to it, till, 

(6) after three months — on March 4th next year, 

1858 — he attacked the huge triple entrenchments 
of the enemy round the palaces, and before the 
end of the month took the city and dispersed 
the enemy ; and, 

(7) lastly, clearing the districts around, from Luck- 
now itself as a centre, hemmed in the remains of 
the rebel army into the northern frontiers, and 
drove it thence into the Nepal mountains, when 
it totally disappeared. 

Meanwhile, Sir Hugh Rose from Bombay, and other 
columns from Madras, had been clearing the Central 
India districts, and taken Jhansi, leaving the enemy 
holding no position of defence. But latterly there 
were other masses of the defeated enemy still in the 
field, chiefly towards Gwalior. Sikh levies having 
now been largely added to our army, these several 
gatherings there of the mutineers or rebel troops 
were systematically attacked and crushed, the last 
being, as already mentioned, Tantia Topee. 

Thus the war, which had been brought on by the 
Mutiny, and had been designed to sweep the British 
out of India, had now become narrowed instead 
to certain northern districts, as has been described, 
and was in fact finished off in less than two years 
from its start. The political result was the transfer 
of the Government from the East India Company to 
the Queen, and the institution of more businesslike 
arrangements and extensive material improvements 


for the ring fence empire which Lord Dalhousie had 
acquired, and Lord Canning had secured, for Great 

Both of James Browne's brothers had before this 
time been out in India. The elder of them, John, of 
the Civil Service, who had won high honours at 
Oxford and at Haileybury, had gone to Bengal, and 
was now stationed at Dinajpore, between Calcutta and 
the Himalaya Mountains to its north. The country 
there had become disturbed, but nothing special needs 
to be recorded respecting him. 

But of Robert, the story and fate were thought so 
interesting that they were included in the scanty 
intelligence that was sent from the force with Havelock 
at Cawnpore to the army before Delhi. He had been 
appointed to the 56th N. I. which was stationed at 
the Gehenna of Cawnpore. But he was away from the 
headquarters of his regiment when the rising occurred ; 
so he escaped the massacre and catastrophe there. 
By good luck, he had been sent on detachment duty 
to Humeerpore and other outposts; and when the 
Sepoys there broke out, he and the other officers in 
the neighbourhood escaped to the jungles bordering 
the Ganges, and there hid in the hope of coming across 
some friendly force that might be marching up country 
from the south. 

There they wandered for five weeks, encountering 
grave perils and attacks, and all of them, except 
Browne himself, meeting their death, being either 
drowned or murdered, or killed fighting, or succumb- 
ing to illness or privation. At last, when so ill, and 
so starved and exhausted, as to be on the point of 
death, he was lighted on, in a hut where he was lying 
hid, by a soubahdar (native captain) of the Madras 
army, named Gunga Singh. This officer, heartily 


{To face p. 22. 


loyal, secured a pony, carried out the emaciated 
Browne in his arms, placed him on the pony, and 
conveyed him thus, gradually, by secret paths, till 
they lighted on Havelock's army. 

Browne, on so reaching the camp, was in such a 
desperate state that the general proposed to send 
him to Calcutta. But he entreated to be allowed to 
remain, as he felt already that he was recovering. 
So he stopped with the camp, did, as a fact, recover 
health and strength, joined Havelock's Volunteer 
Cavalry, and fought in seven of the actions in the 
operations for the relief, or, as it was afterwards called, 
the reinforcement, of the garrison of the Lucknow 
Residency. But, alas ! he was attacked by cholera, 
and succumbed to the fell disease. 

The soubahdar, it may be mentioned, was made 
much of and well rewarded, receiving a handsome 
presentation medal with a suitable inscription, various 
military honours, and a valuable jagkeer, or grant of 

The intelligence of his brother's adventures was 
of course most exciting to James at Addiscombe, but 
the later news of his death was a crushing blow. 
This, combined with some of the darker features and 
episodes of the war, materially affected his state of 
feeling during the last term of his cadetship, and the 
vigour of his work. But it did not do so sufficiently 
to prevent his gaining the prize at which he had 
been aiming — an appointment to the Bengal Engineers. 
In December, 1857, he left Addiscombe. Browne came 
out third in the list of Engineers — but the second 
on the list died while at Chatham, so that Browne 
stood second of those who reached India. 

His comrades posted with him to the Bengal list 
were Conway Gordon and Carter (afterwards Carter- 


Campbell); and those to Bombay were Mant and 
A. R. Seton. These, with Vibart, Manderson, Lovett, 
Home, Skipwith, Edward Trevor, and Jopp, all about 
the same standing, were his firm friends through life. 

All these young Engineer officers went to Chatham 
for the prescribed course of practical professional 
instruction. They tried hard, of course, to be allowed 
to go out at once to India and have a chance of 
taking part in the later stages of the war. But 
this was not to be ; and it was not until after the 
completion, in the middle of 1859, of the usual resi- 
dence at Chatham that Browne proceeded to Calcutta, 
to start on his Indian career. 

It may be added that, in consequence of the lessons 
of the Crimean war, the Chatham course had been 
extended and improved, both as to the subjects, and 
in the severity of the study. The period spent there 
was no longer regarded, as of old, in the light of a 
time for more or less of a holiday, after the continued 
strain at Addiscombe, and before embarking on one's 
practical career. 

One point to notice when Browne is thus about to 
land in India is that he was quite exceptional in 
respect of the strength and personal effect of his 
religious convictions. This is all that need be said 
of them at this period, except that he never obtruded 
them, though they were ingrained and fundamental, 
and that they influenced his every action. 

We now come to the state of affairs in India after 
the Mutiny and the start of the new regime. 

The fundamental change lay in the rapid and wide- 
spread development of the principles and methods 
of administration that had been initiated by Lord 
Dalhousie 1 in substitution for the more patriarchal 
1 Vide page 15. 



system that had prevailed. Departments were being 
everywhere formed for the several classes of duties 
and work that were required, and were being placed 
under more suitable and special supervision than of 

The beneficent system that had been formerly in 
force, though scarcely thought of or recognised in 
England, where India was regarded chiefly as a sort 
of colony for the expatriation of younger sons, had 
been carefully watched and heartily praised by such 
men as Montalembert ; and the changes now being 
introduced had to avoid any lessening of the benefits 
that had attached to that old system. 

The most important measure now being started was 
that of a proper financial and budget system. The 
monetary transactions of Government, heretofore in 
a chaotic state, were being brought into order and 
financial regularity, under the guidance of Mr. Wilson 
of The Economist, who had been sent out to India 
to organise the Financial Department. The Civil 
Service, which officered the Civil Departments, was 
now being entirely recruited by competition which 
ensured brain power, though it was still doubtful 
whether it also ensured the continuance of that simple 
and benevolent tone and that unison with native senti- 
ment which had been held specially to characterise 
the old Civil Service, and which had been so effective 
in its influence with the great body of the teeming 
millions of the population. But the two greatest 
changes, besides that of the introduction of proper 
financial management, which affected Browne's career, 
were those in the army and in the Engineer or Public 
Works Department. 

In the army the abolition of the purchase system 
removed the obstruction which, as insisted on by the 


Duke of Wellington, had barred general commands 
and staff appointments to officers of Artillery and 
Engineers ; and in India the officers of the new army, 
in substitution of the old Indian Cavalry and Infantry, 
were, curious to say, constituted a " Staff Corps," 
which, at first at any rate, reserved all further staff 
appointments to its own members, and sedulously 
excluded officers of Artillery and Engineers save a 
very few rare exceptions. These staff appointments, 
as they were called, absorbed all the real prizes of the 
service, not only the army staff, but the political 
department, the regimental officers of the frontier 
force, and so forth. 

In the course of time the rigidity of this exclusive- 
ness was gradually reduced. One R.E. was actually 
allowed to become Commander-in-chief. This was 
Lord Napier of Magdala. And " Buster " Browne 
was himself the first R.E. to become Q.M.G. of 
the army. This was done at the instance of Lord 

At the same time the numbers of the British troops 
in India were very largely increased beyond the force 
that had been maintained there before the Mutiny. 
This, with the claims of improved sanitation, necessi- 
tated a very great expansion in the accommodation 
needed for the British troops both in the plains and 
in the hills ; and with the increasing prominence of 
the Russian and Eastern questions which had come 
to the front at the same time, the defence of India — 
on its frontier, its seaboard, and its interior — had to 
be thoroughly taken in hand. 

Further, the necessity for progress in the material 
development of the country and its resources, which 
had been vigorously begun by Lord Dalhousie, had 
become more and more obvious. Only a very few 



important railways had as yet been started, and their 
management had been left entirely to the agency of 
State guaranteed companies ; but to cope adequately 
with the real needs of the country, a vast expansion 
of them and the adoption of other agencies in addition, 
and of fresh methods, had become indispensable. 

Irrigation works for agricultural purposes had 
always received an exceptional degree of attention — 
much more, that is, than any other class of enterprise ; 
and some very important canals had already been 
carried out, or were in progress, in Madras and Scinde, 
in the North-west Provinces, and the Punjab. But 
an enormous increase was now felt to be really 
needed, if only to cope with the famines, more or less 
prolonged, which were ever recurring and becoming 
more prominent, and so establishing their claims to 
attention. All these requirements would obviously 
make great and special demands on the soldier and the 
engineer, and give them corresponding opportunities. 

In extenuation of the apparent neglect in former 
days it may perhaps be just to observe that, with 
the exception of what has been already mentioned, 
the East India Company had, up to Lord Dalhousie's 
time, felt that its attention and expenditure must 
be concentrated on the suppression of anarchy and 
the promotion of peace, justice, and commerce. It 
may also be observed that, as before noticed, 1 the 
native community were so impregnated, by instinct 
and habits, with suspicion of the objects and aims of 
their rulers, and of any proposed changes or innova- 
tions, that much precaution and care were needed for 
their introduction — as, for instance, in the case of the 
electric telegraph. This tendency to suspicion had 
been one of the most effective handles used for the 

1 Vide page 15. 


propagation of the Mutiny. The people were content 
with their own style of country (non-macadamised) 
roads, with ferries instead of bridges, and so forth. 
There was not an iron bridge in India, except one or 
two at the capitals, and one at Lucknow ; where it had 
been erected when Oude was a native kingdom, and its 
Engineer officers could personally influence the Nawab. 

Also, very beneficial changes were made in the 
accounts of engineer operations, in part of the 
arrangements instituted by Mr. Wilson. These 
changes removed the overwhelming and prolonged 
monetary responsibility which had formerly attached 
to the Engineers pending the audit of their ex- 
penditure, in which the delay of many years was the 
chief characteristic, a veritable scandal and disgrace 
to the Government. 

To meet the increase in the engineer work various 
schemes were more or less adopted. One was an 
addition to the corps of Royal Engineers. Another 
was that of recruiting from the trained young Civil 
Engineers in England, besides a sprinkling of older 
and more experienced men. And eventually this was 
supplemented by the institution of the Cooper's Hill 
College. Of course, every now and then engineers 
left the service of the guaranteed railways and took 
employment under Government ; but this did not occur 
to any great extent till ten years later. 

But till then there was considerable friction between 
those several classes of engineers, and jealousy of 
the Royal Engineers, many of whom, on the other 
hand, had their time and professional ability frittered 
away on petty barrack work in the several canton- 
ments, as the military stations were called. 

Another point which should be referred to, before 
leaving this subject, is the condition of the British 



troops in India at that time. The enormous increase 
in their numbers made the provision of shelter for 
them very difficult. At first it could not be other 
than inadequate or unsuitable. The result was ap- 
palling mortality ; and it was not till the wise and 
beneficent Lord Napier of Magdala forced this matter 
into prominence, meeting with much obloquy and 
ridicule at the time, that this mortality was reduced by 
four-fifths, mostly through the provision of healthy 
barracks, on healthy sites, and of facilities for a 
healthier life. The state of matters was, at first, 
nearly as bad for the officers and their families, while 
all expenses and the price of everything had risen 
enormously. Government adopted many steps to 
lessen the difficulties that had resulted, but it took 
a long time to make the state of matters tolerable. 
The soldiers' wives and families were at first in great 
difficulties, but the extension of Sir Henry Lawrence's 
asylums afforded the best help of all. It was a 
long time before the soldiers' wives could come to 
terms with the natives. The marketing was curious. 
It was odd to hear the intended inquiry, " How much 
for this sheep's head?" expressed in the vernacular 
thus: " What o'clock this sheep's hat?" 

Again, another feature which may be usefully 
mentioned in the change now begun in the State 
of India was in regard to the feeling between the 
English community and the natives. The tendency 
of the new English residents to dislike the natives, 
owing in a measure to a mistaken idea of their conduct 
in connection with the late rising, was more or less 
reasonable, but the special point now referred to is 
" domestic service." Nothing, on the whole, could 
be more praiseworthy than the conduct of the servants 
of English families and regiments during the Mutiny ; 


but the servants then extant exhausted the whole 
habitual trained supply. Hence the wants of the 
enormous increase of the English military community 
could not be met except from a very inferior and 
wholly untrained and unfit section of the native 
population. Naturally very bad and mischievous 
relations arose between the new English community 
and their domestics. And for some time this un- 
pleasantness extended unfortunately to their de- 
meanour towards natives in general, of all classes. 


CAREER: i860 


HE last chapter has described at some length 

1 the public outlook when Browne arrived in 
Calcutta towards the end of 1859. He was kept 
there only a few weeks while the Government were de- 
ciding where to send him ; and during that short stay, 
besides spending some pleasant days with his brother 
John, he studied the system and arrangements of 
his future departmental duties, and then started off 
to join the headquarters of the Sappers and Miners 
at Roorkee. 

There too his stay was short, lasting only a few 
weeks, during which he was doubtless keeping his 
eyes and ears well open ; and then came rumours of 
a row with some of the tribes on the north-west 
frontier, for the suppression of which a detachment 
of the Sappers would be needed. Then, as all the 
seniors were already otherwise engaged, Browne, 
the youngest officer of the corps, was dispatched, in 
command of two companies, to the seat of operation, 


distant some 700 miles — rather an onerous charge for 
an absolute novice. 

The tribe concerned bore the name of the Mahsood 
Wuzeerees ; and the tract they occupied was opposite 
part of the Punjab frontier lying between Dera 
Ishmael Khan and Bunnoo. 

Without dealing at present with the general question 
of frontier quarrels and raids, it may be mentioned 
that there had been already twenty-two expeditions 
carried out by the British Government against one 
or other of these border tribes during the eleven 
years that had elapsed since the annexation of the 
Punjab in 1849. One had been in close proximity 
to the site of the impending operations. Two others 
also had been near it, slightly farther to the south ; 
but the other nineteen had all been more northerly, 
in the neighbourhood of Kohat or Peshawur. All 
these expeditions had been conflicts with Pathan 
tribes. There had been none at all in the still 
more southerly district, where the trans-frontier 
tribes included Beloochees as well as Pathans. It 
will be explained presently that most Pathans are 
fanatical, but the Beloochees are not, and also 
what other differences there are between these two 

To revert to Browne, it was doubtless a trying task, 
for one so recently arrived in India, to carry out the 
responsibility of this march. He had scarcely had 
time to acquire even a smattering of the vernacular, 
or of the details of the management and command 
of native troops ; but apparently he got through the 
march with perfect success. Railroads there were 
none, and he had simply to march the regulation 
stages by the, as yet, unfinished trunk roads via 
Umballa and Loodiana, and onwards across the 


whole of the Doabs 1 of the Punjab, up to Attock, 
and thence descend by boat down the Indus to Tank, 
near Dera Ishmael Khan, the rendezvous of . the 
column which was to carry out the expedition against 
the Mahsood Wuzeeree tribe. 

There he found himself, on April 15th, under the 
direct command of Captain Pollard, R.E., and at- 
tached to a force of about 5,000 men, which in- 
cluded that superb corps, The Guides, and of which 
the general officers were General Sir Neville 
Chamberlain and Brigadier Lumsden — both of them 
distinguished commanders. 

General Neville Chamberlain had been noted from 
his earliest days as a brilliant and valuable officer, as 
well as an unrivalled swordsman. He had served 
throughout the Afghan war, the Gwalior campaign, 
the Sutlej and Punjab wars, and the siege of Delhi, 
where he had been adjutant-general of the army; 
and he was now the commandant on the Punjab 

Brigadier Harry Lumsden, usually known by the 
" happily chosen name of Joe," had first served with 
Pollock in Afghanistan, and then in the Sutlej and 
Punjab campaigns. He had already been appointed 
to the exceptional duty of raising the corps of Guides, 
which attained the very zenith of soldier fame and 
repute with its deeds in the Mooltan campaign and 
in the Mutiny, when it had marched its 600 miles 
to Delhi in twenty-two days, and joined in action 
on the day of its arrival; losing in the engagement 
the gallant young Quentin Battye, who died with the 

1 Doab — i.e. Do Ab— means country lying between two rivers. 
Thus Baree Doab lies between the Beas and the Ravee ; the 
Rechna between the Ravee and the Chenab ; the Jech between 
the Jhelum and the Chenab. 



old classic quotation on his lips, " Dulce et decorum 
est pro patria mori." After some ceaseless partisan 
warfare on the frontier, he had been selected by Lord 
Canning for deputation, with his brother, Captain 
Peter Lumsden, and a medical officer, Dr. Bellew, 
on a mission to Candahar, to support there during 
the Mutiny the friendly policy of the Ameer 
Dost Mahomed. After the neck of the Mutiny had 
been broken, Lumsden had returned to Peshawur — 
and now he had come down with his beloved 
Guides to Dera Ishmael Khan for the Wuzeeree 

A memoir which has been written of General 
Lumsden shows what a character these Wuzeerees 
bore, both as fighters and as ruthless marauders ; 
but it ma}^ be specially mentioned here that, irre- 
spective of the character of the people, the 
geographical position which they occupied was one 
of the highest strategical importance to the British 
Government. It commanded and held the two 
great kafila routes from the Punjab into Central 
Afghanistan, to Ghuznee and to Khelat-i-Ghilzie, 
respectively. And the weakness of our administra- 
tion and of the Government of India cannot fail to 
be recognised when it may be plainly mentioned 
that, however victorious we may have been in this 
and other later contests with these Wuzeerees, we 
have never, until the present (Lord Curzon's) rule, 
forced that tribe to yield to us the possession of those 
routes and the command of those entrances into the 
adjacent country. This has to be mentioned in direct 
explanation of the case and of the necessity of these 

The position, character, and attitude of the enemy 
must now be described. Their habitual boast, which 



they repeated to our general and to Pollard, 1 was 
the distich : 

Kings they have come, and kings they have gone — 
Never a king of them tribute has won. 

This indicated the general attitude of the Wuzeerees, 
which was apt to end in violent aggression on their 

They had recently committed a very truculent raid, 
and their special iniquity now was their refusal to 
pay the fine levied by Government for that deed ; and 
the object of the expedition was to enforce the penalty 
and capture their chief stronghold, Kanagorum, which 
they fondly believed to be impregnable, if not actually 

Browne had reached his post to the very day, for 
on the morrow, April 16th, the force crossed the 
border and entered Wuzeeree territory, which was 
quite unknown to us save by native rumours. It had 
never before been entered by an Englishman, but it 
was understood to be an entangled mass of mountains, 
in some five ranges, with crests rising from 5,000 
to upwards of 12,000 feet, accessible only by the 
defiles of another quite separate range, the Suliman, 
with streams or rivers, some of which attained a 
breadth of 1,000 yards. 

Shortly before this the Wuzeerees had received a 
sharp check, which had led them to keep to their own 
hills while the expeditionary force was assembling. 
The incident was this. The first party of the British 
force to appear in this neighbourhood, in advance 
of the rest, was a detachment of about 150 Native 
Cavalry, under the command of a very smart and 
knowing old ressaldar, or native officer. Hearing 

1 Browne's immediate commander — vide page 33. 


of their arrival, some 3,000 of the enemy poured out 
from their hills to the plains to attack this party. 
The wily ressaldar, affecting to retire before them, 
drew on these Wuzeerees after him, and handled his 
men so as to make it appear that they were gradually 
getting more and more disorganised. But when he 
had thus drawn the Wuzeerees, all infantry of course, 
some three miles away from their hills, he suddenly 
halted, threw his men into proper formation, and with 
a volley and a cheer charged home into the mass of 
the enemy and drove them back in hot flight to their 
own hills, the ground being strewn with some 200 
of their dead before they reached their shelter. 

It will be understood that at this time Browne 
was, for practical purposes, an entire novice. Every- 
thing in this Derajat country was absolutely new 
to him, and as perfectly the opposite as it could well 
be of anything he had hitherto experienced or seen. 
And there can be no doubt that he was at once, and 
strongly, impressed with the manly and vigorous 
style of men, friends or foes, with whom he was now 
coming in contact ; and, however strong his combative 
tendency, he felt, at the same time, that they were 
people to whom he could be, as he eventually was, 
very warmly disposed. This must have eased his 
feelings and helped him to tackle the heavy work 
and labour now before him, and also led him not 
merely to carry out his current military duties, but 
to acquire the language of the country and gain good 
practical knowledge. 

Next day, April 16th, the force started into the 
hills ; and after penetrating some twenty-five miles, it 
split up into two parties, of which the smaller one, 
of some 1,500 men under Lumsden, halted at Palosin, 
with the camp and stores, while Chamberlain, with 


the larger party, advanced farther, exploring the 
adjacent valleys. Browne was left with Lumsden's 

A few days afterwards — on April 23rd, to be pre- 
cise — a compact body of 3,000 Wuzeerees attacked 
Lumsden's camp at early dawn, overpowered the 
pickets and some irregular levies, and then dashed 
sword in hand onwards. But Lumsden soon got 
his troops into formation, and holding the enemy 
in front with his Guides whom they had attacked, 
swung his Ghoorkas and Sikhs round on their flank 
and repulsed them. Then he turned the check into 
a complete rout, pursuing the enemy over the hills, 
and giving them no breathing time, till they broke 
up thoroughly and dispersed in all directions. The 
Wuzeerees left behind dead in the camp some 130 
men, including their chief. 

It was here that the first of Browne's adventures, 
of which so many are told, is said to have occurred. 
The attack was a surprise, and Browne was in his 
night dress ; not finding his sword at once, he is 
said to have seized one of the light poles of his 
shemtana, or small tent, and swept down the raiders 
with it. 

Next morning the whole force advanced, the enemy 
essaying in vain to check them by proposals for a 
parley ; and on May 4th the real fight came off in 
the Burrera Tonga Pass, which they had fortified 
with terraces of stone breastworks, and strong and 
thick abattis. Our troops were formed in three 
columns. The enemy, supposing they had checked 
the first column, charged the force; on which the 
whole three columns, acting in concert, drove them 
back, and accompanying them into the defences (where 
the gallant Keyes cut down their chief), then drove 


them out, and pursued them over the hills, leaving 
the ground thickly strewn with their dead. 

These two fights, at Palosin and Burrera Tonga, 
were the only real combats in the campaign, and the 
road was now clear to the enemy's chief stronghold 
of Kanagorum. This was reached next day ; and, 
though reputed to be impregnable, it came to satis- 
factory terms forthwith, and was spared the destruction 
which had threatened it. Parties of the victorious 
troops entered and walked quietly about the fort and 
position, much surprising the wild mountaineers by 
their peacefulness and camaraderie. A Syud who 
watched them could not refrain from calling out, 
" Well done, British justice ! " an effusive testimony 
to the unexpected British discipline and British 
character and conduct which is said to have pleased 
the general as much as his military success. 

In less than a week the force left Kanagorum 
on its march back, or rather round towards British 
territory, and swept northward for some 160 miles 
through the whole length of Wuzeeree Land to its 
northerly exit at Bunnoo. On its route it meted 
out punishment to those sections of the tribe that 
had earned it, and searched out and destroyed their 
principal strongholds. 

The chief position thus dealt with was Makeen, 
a group of villages with a specially large collection 
of strong towers. These towers were all levelled to 
the ground, but not till after some delay — longer 
delay than Sir Neville liked. But blasting the large 
solid bases of such towers could not be done in a 
moment. One of them, for instance, which Browne 
destroyed, was forty feet high, square in plan, with 
a side of only twenty-five feet ; but, up to a height 
of eighteen feet, this square was of solid stonework, 


the whole of which he had to blast to pieces. All 
the work was similar. 

After this the force again went onwards toward 
Bunnoo, Browne continuing these demolitions, clearing 
the road and removing obstructions as the force 
advanced ; and also triangulating, surveying, and 
mapping the country, and joining of course in any 
combats that occurred. Such was the work of Browne 
and his Sappers in this expedition, which, though 
brisk while it lasted, was over in a month, the closing 
task being the construction of a road for the guns 
through the Ruzmuk Pass at a height of 7,300 feet 
above sea level. On clearing out of the Wuzeeree 
country and reaching Bunnoo, the force was broken 
up, on May 19th; and Browne, who received high 
praise for his conduct in the expedition, was then 
posted to engineer work at Attock, on the Indus. 

It may be here noticed, as a matter of personal 
interest, that Browne and his family w r ere brought 
repeatedly into contact with this Mahsood Wuzeeree 
clan. In later years he surveyed their country and 
passes, reported on their communications, and organised 
the system of blockade by which only have they 
been kept under control. His brother-in-law, Pierson, 
of his own corps, contracted a fatal illness and 
died during one of the expeditions against them ; and 
a year after Browne's own death, his eldest son fell 
a victim to a treacherous attack in one of these 
Wuzeeree villages. 

This was Browne's first contact with the men of 
the frontier, and before the expedition was over he 
had advanced far in power of conversing both in 
the ordinary vernacular and in the Pushtoo and local 
dialects of the border tribes, and further, had shown 
a wonderful aptitude for dealing with the men. 


His quickness in acquiring the vernacular was ex- 
ceptional and marked, and widely recognised. It was 
doubtless due in a great measure to his fine ear for 
music; but he attributed it more to the training 
during his earlier years in speaking so many of the 
colloquial languages of Europe — English, French, 
German, and Italian. 

In this expedition, too, he had specially gauged 
the feeling and bearing of the Pathan and other 
border men in that neighbourhood towards the English. 
They were exceedingly brave, manly, and bold. They 
had not fought against the English for many years ; 
and they had sent many men to join our Punjab 
and frontier regiments, and to take part in the 
storming of Delhi and other operations for the sup- 
pression of the Mutiny. They were a race with 
whom firmness, authority, and vigour, as well as tact, 
were necessary to keep them under proper control. 
And well it was for Browne that he had thus early 
acquired, under exceptionally good frontier officers, 
sound and correct ideas on this point, and had, as 
already noted, taken a liking to the race. 

For now, after four months of purely military ex- 
perience, he was appointed, in July, i860, to the Public 
Works Department of the Punjab, and posted in 
almost solitary positions to works at Attock, and at 
isolated posts there and on the Indus and near 
Peshawur, among a wild Pathan people. 

This first expedition was all the more valuable 
w T hen followed by his new appointment. For in that 
Wuzeeree expedition he had been brought into 
immediate contact with a peculiar and typical tribe. 
Though Pathans of the proudest and fiercest type, 
they were situate in the central ground between the 
exclusively Pathan districts on their north and the 



more Beloochee races to the south, and were com- 
paratively free from the ruthless religious fanaticism 
of the tribes that stretched northwards to the River 
Attock and into the Himalayan Mountains beyond. 
His first experience therefore — and a very practical 
one it was — of the Pathan race was not the same 
as if it had been that of the more northerly and very 
fanatical tribes, and he was able to start on his new 
work with a more favourable idea than he might 
have otherwise formed of the temper and character 
of the Pathan workpeople with whom he was now 
to be brought into the closest contact. 

Further, he had come under the eyes and won the 
friendship of the two leading men upon that frontier, 
Sir Neville Chamberlain and Colonel Lumsden, who 
were also cognisant of the fact that Browne's whole 
experience of India had been of less than six months' 
duration, and appreciated the excellent use which he 
had made of it. 

Neither the exigencies of the work on which he 
had been engaged nor the inaccessibility of its locality 
had admitted of his acquiring properly the public 
knowledge of outside general events for which he 
thirsted. For great events were stirring everywhere : 
in America the slavery crisis and civil war ; even in 
England the anxieties that were creating the Volunteer 
movement, of which the suggestion originated from 
Louis Napoleon ; in India, besides the matters already 
mentioned, the aggressive movements of Russia from 
the north. She had not only been in contest with the 
Khirgiz in the north, but had been threatening 
the Khokand and Bokhara States ; and Kharikoff's 
mission, which had started early in 1858 for the 
exploration of Khorasan, had travelled as far as 
Herat. But on essaying to advance still farther 


India-wards, he had been checked by Dost Mahomed's 
fidelity to his treaty and alliance with us, and had 
consequently returned to Teheran. 

In moving from Wuzeeree Land to Attock, Browne 
was suddenly brought into close contact with — into 
the very midst of — a race differing in one most 
important point, fanaticism, from those with whom 
he had hitherto been dealing. This fanaticism, as 
already noted, did not exist at all in Wuzeeristan, 
or to its south, and had penetrated only slightly 
to its northern borders ; but in the Eusufzai 
districts, Peshawur and Attock, and the northern 
hills, it was fierce and bitter, and Ghazees abounded. 
Englishmen carried their lives in their hands, and 
the outlook for any one who had to mix freely 
with the people was not apparently very promis- 
ing. Browne, however, was quite impervious to 
such ideas, and his feeling and attitude to these 
wild people were quite unique. Hence, before pro- 
ceeding with his personal story, the origin and the 
particulars of this fanaticism may perhaps be first 
described, with its spread and growth, in these parts, 
at the time of the Sikh advance to the west of the 
Indus River, its condition when the British power 
replaced the Sikh rule, and its later history. 

In the descriptions given by native historians of 
olden days, no fanatical feeling, indeed hardly any 
religious feeling at all, was shown as existing among 
the Afreedee or other neighbouring tribes about 
Peshawur, before the Sikh power crossed to the west 
of the Indus. It is since then that an exceptionally 
great change of religious feeling, with the rise of 
intense fanaticism, has begun and spread among the 
clans there — the Orakzais, Afreedees, Khyberees, 
Eusufzais, and the like. 



It is very likely that so long as the rulers of the 
Indus districts of the Punjab, including Hazara and 
Kashmir, were Mahomedans, there was no need or 
necessity for any mullah or priestly pretender to come 
forward and stir up a religious war; for the strife 
would have been only between Moslem and Moslem. 
When the Moghul emperors or their Mahomedan or 
Hindoo lieutenants moved troops to conquer the 
country of any independent tribe, it was done to 
increase the power of a Mahomedan empire ; and the 
mullahs would far rather have assisted the attack 
than opposed it. The resistance offered by the tribe 
would be due solely to the objection that any brave 
and independent race would have to the notion of 
conquest — to the indignity of seeing their country 
attacked and annexed by any one else, and not to any 
question of religion. Mullah fanaticism was never 
at the base of any such opposition or struggle. But 
when the soldiers of the Sikh " Lion of Lahore," having 
first annexed the different districts and quarters of the 
Punjab itself from the hands of the previous effete 
Moghul and Barakzai rulers, gradually acquired 
Hazara and Peshawur, and other trans-Indus districts, 
then the matter took quite a different turn ; and 
the year 1825 saw the rise and commencement of 
that fanatical hostility and progress which have helped 
to cement the opposition of the Mahomedans — first 
against the Sikhs, and afterwards against their suc- 
cessors, the British. 

It may be useful to describe first very briefly 
the career of one or two of these fanatical priests or 
pretenders, or whatever name one cares to call them 
by, who did so much to give and cause incessant 
trouble during recent years. 

The first to be mentioned is Sayad Ahmad Shah 


of Bareilly. It was in the year 1824 that, having 
journeyed to Calcutta, and thence to Mecca, and 
returned by way of Candahar and Cabul, Sayad 
Ahmad appeared in the plains of Eusufzai with 
forty Hindustanee followers, and proclaimed himself 
champion of Islam ! Who could have judged, or 
imagined, that this first pretender, with his small 
gathering, would one day secure Peshawur, and have 
the means of opposing the whole of the Sikh power? 
Who could have believed, at that period, that the 
followers of this one man would afterwards force 
on the English Government the campaign of 1853, 
the affair of Shekh Jana, 1858, the expedition against 
the Khuddu Khels, 1858, the subsequent conflicts 
such as the Ambeyla campaign, 1863, and the Black 
Mountain expeditions of 1868 and 1888? But, as 
it turned out, his arrival in the Eusufzai country 
proved a success. The simple and superstitious people 
there at once flocked to the standard, and his small 
Hindustanee band was forthwith increased to 900 men 
by recruits from India. Collecting his gathering, and 
assisted by the Khans of Hund and Zeyda, and the 
followers of the Peshawur Sardars, Sayad Ahmad 
determined in 1827 to offer battle to the Sikhs, and 
moved eastwards with the intention of laying siege 
to the fort of Attock. But Runjeet Singh had timely 
warning of what was going on, and Sayad Ahmad had 
barely reached Saidu when Runjeet's famous general, 
Harree Singh, having a large force at Attock, sent 
Budh Singh with a strong command across the Indus 
to meet the Pathan host at Saidu. As, however, his 
Peshawur supporters promptly disappeared, Sayad 
Ahmad suffered a crushing defeat, and fled with a 
few followers to Lund Khwar, to Swat, and then to 


After that, however, he was invited to return to 
Eusufzai by certain of its Khans, who promised to 
help and assist him, Accordingly he once more 
proceeded there, and thousands, including various 
other chiefs, swarmed to his standard. It was here 
that he seems to have first met that notoriety, Abdul 
Ghaffur of Jabrai, in Upper Swat, known also as the 
hermit of Beka, the Balajee, and still better in later 
days as the Akhoond Sahib of Swat. He appears, 
before this, to have joined in the slaughter of Khadi 
Khan of Hund, the treacherous chief who had revealed 
the secret of the proposed attack on the fort of Attock, 
and had in consequence brought on the disaster at 

Sayad Ahmad then proceeded to Panjtar, where 
Fatteh Khan gave him a warm welcome, and assisted 
him in his undertakings. He then subdued the Khans 
of Hoti and Hund, and in a night attack defeated 
the Barakzai Sardars who had advanced to Zeyda. 
In 1829 he again defeated the same Sardars at Hoti, 
and, following up his victory, secured possession of 

These contests were all with his Mahomedan co- 
religionists ; and were continued with them till at 
length his aggressiveness, and still more his obnoxious 
edicts regarding their women, stirred up the enmity 
of the whole Pathan community; and, in the massacre 
that followed, thousands of his disciples were 
slaughtered. After this, Sayad Ahmad, Sayad Ismail, 
and the ever-increasing colony of Hindustanees, now 
numbering some 1,600, were compelled to cross the 
Indus and take shelter in the Punjab, in Balakot, where 
other followers were coming in to join him. But the 
Sikh general, Sher Singh, was not the man to stand 
this, and, without losing any time, he marched at once 


against the Sayad and defeated him in a pitched 
battle in which Sayad Ahmad himself, his principal 
officers, and the mass of his men were either cut down 
or driven into the River Indus and drowned. Only 
300 men managed to escape, and these no doubt 
went and joined other gatherings, and helped to 
inflame the minds of the Pathans inside, as well 
as those of the tribesmen outside, of the Peshawur 
district against the heretical Sikh. It is because he 
was the first and chief originator of this priestly 
fanaticism — which has since his days played so im- 
portant a part in all fights and campaigns, whether 
against the Sikhs or ourselves — that we have re- 
corded this history of him. But such briefly was 
the career of Sayad Ahmad, the first of their fanatical 

The Sikh rule on the frontier was, it may be 
mentioned, a stern and harsh if not a cruel one : 
the slightest offence against person or property in- 
variably led to the extreme penalty of death. If a 
village failed to pa}^ its quota of revenue, a force 
was led out against it, the residents were shot down, 
and the village walls levelled with the ground. The 
Sardars and farmers of the revenue, whenever the 
farming system was established, were equally harsh 
and oppressive towards the inhabitants ; and as they 
were supported by the Sikh power, the latter came 
in for the extra share of hatred brought on by the 
conduct of these understrappers. Hence the indepen- 
dent frontier hill country gradually became full of 
men, who had fled there from the Punjab plains for 
protection against the oppression of the Sikhs ; and 
these refugees, assisted by the numerous mullahs, talibs, 
and disciples of Sayad Ahmad, Abdul Ghaffur, and 
others of less note, gradually led all the followers of 


Islam — inside and outside the border land — to hate 
virulently the heretical and infidel Sikh. 

When afterwards the English power replaced the 
Sikh, the Afghan hatred towards the latter was at its 
very height ; and as no steps were taken to avert 
the tendency, we, as the successors of the Sikhs in 
the rule of the country, came in for a full share of 
the same. As an Afghan gentleman of great influence 
has said, " The behaviour of the Sikhs had made it 
very difficult for the English to win the regard and 
affections of the Afghan population." A few years of 
a steady course of kind treatment has certainly gained 
for us their respect, but the hatred of the mullahs, 
both inside and outside our borders, remains un- 
altered ; the former may veil and conceal their inward 
feelings, but the latter vaunt their dislike and enmity 
openly, and preach their " ghaza" and "jehad" just as 
devoutly as ever. Thus was it that, in acquiring the 
Punjab, we also succeeded to the Sikh inheritance of 
the hatred towards them of the border Mahomedans. 

What has been above written describes the real 
origin and opening phases of the fanaticism under 
reference ; but some further instances and remarks 
may tend to stamp the characteristics more thoroughly. 

After Sayad Ahmad the next priestly adventurer 
was Abdul Ghaffur, the recluse of Beka, best known 
as the Akhoond, whose name has already been 
mentioned as having met Sayad Ahmad in Eusufzai. 
Abdul Ghaffur had now settled down at Saidu, in 
Swat, where he married a woman of the Akhoond 
Khel clan, and had two sons and a daughter; and, 
leading a life of perfect austerity for many years, 
he managed to secure an enormous ascendency over 
the minds of the Mahomedans, while his fame spread 
to all quarters. Then in 1849, on the British 


becoming owners of the Peshawur district, he, the 
Akhoond, became mischievous, and encouraged the 
Swat marauders to raid into the plains of Eusufzai 
and disturb the peace of that border from Abazai to 
the Indus ; and in the strife that then ensued there 
fell into our hands a letter fron the Akhoond which 
authorised the murder of all Europeans and Hindoos 
in the Peshawur valley, and of all Mahomedans in 
British service. So our eyes were opened to the 
malign influence at work. 

But no immediate action was necessary, for our 
recent operations against the Utman Khels and others' 
near them had opened the eyes of the people of Swat 
to the dangers they were incurring by sending 
marauders into our territory, and they had become 
fearful lest their own country might not just as easily 
be overrun by the British arms. They therefore held 
their hand, and, till 1863, did little beyond appointing 
a titular king, who died early, and was the first and 
last king of Swat. Hence the Akhoond's efforts col- 
lapsed, and he almost disappeared until 1863. When 
the story reaches the events of that year, we shall 
hear more of him. 




HAVING finished this digression to the matter of 
the fanaticism on the northern borders, we return 
to Browne, whom we left about to join at Attock, 
an historical fort and position commanding the passage 
of the Indus — the greatest of the Western Himalaya 
rivers. At this time Lord Canning was still the 
viceroy, and was visiting these northern regions to 
learn personally the development of the Punjab which 
Lord Dalhousie had started by Henry Lawrence's 
agency and had checked under Sir John's. Browne's 
actual charge was the Indus section of the Lahore and 
Peshawur road ; and, with numerous other officers, 
he was under the executive control of Colonel Alexander 
Taylor, already so pre-eminent as an engineer at Delhi 
and Lucknow. Of Taylor it is said that John Nicholson 
had announced in his dying hours that, if he lived, 
the world should know that it was Alick Taylor 
who had taken Delhi. Now Browne was a man after 
Taylor's own heart, and a warm and lasting friendship 
at once sprang up between the two. Taylor was the 
ablest and soundest of engineers, and under him 
Browne was thrown into a congenial atmosphere of 

49 4 


real work, with full scope for his own ingenuity and 
skill, and into the midst of the very class of natives 
with whom he was best suited to deal. 

Here too, with all the exceptional characteristics of 
the life, the locality, and the people, he was in the 
very centre of the experiences that were best suited 
to him, and that gave the tone to his whole future 
life — the tone of simplicity and vigour, and earnest- 
ness. The variety of the people he had to deal with 
was very great; but he soon singled out and made 
special friends of the men of the Ghilzye tribes from 
the heart of Afghanistan. 

His first employment was at the Attock fort itself, 
and for the clearance of whatever was in confusion 
or arrears, especially as regarded the accounts. He 
was wont afterwards to refer occasionally to " the 
fearful and wonderful questions from the Audit Office." 
What would he have said to the older system ! 

This done, his first special task was the construction 
of the Indus Tunnel Drift, eight feet broad and seven 
feet high, passing under the bed of the Indus at the 
Attock ferry. At this, and at other work on the river 
there or its banks, he remained for a few months, 
during which he came to know the people and their 
ways and language. 

Up till now he had not had much real opportunity, 
however great his anxiety, to acquire a knowledge of 
public events and of the position on and beyond the 
frontier. But he soon learned what has been described 
in the last chapters, and also the anxiety caused by 
the aggressive attitude of Russia in one direction and 
by the fanatical action of the Wahabee sect in another, 
with its special centralisation in the mountains to the 
immediate north of Attock. 

One particular point may be mentioned — almost a 

sir john McQueen 51 

family matter, but of some importance and interest 
in his career : the presence at Peshawur of his brother- 
in-law, Robert Clark — a leading and very influential 
missionary, who, with his colleague, Mr. Lowenthal, 
was exercising a valuable influence there — not merely 
local, but widespread. With their religious views and 
broad-minded aims in entire unison, their nearness 
and accessibility to each other was a matter of much 
happiness to Browne. 

Another strong friendship was also now formed at 
Peshawur — to wit, with Captain, afterwards Sir John, 
McQueen, an officer who had distinguished himself 
greatly during the Mutiny. At the first outset he 
had made his mark, by practically checking the 
Peshawur rising at the very moment of its outbreak. 
A jovial Highlander, of herculean frame, he had been 
a keen student of native athletics — a noted performer 
in the akhara, as the wrestling-ground of the 
Sepoy and other native gymnasts is called. This 
was a practice very prevalent in those days, when 
brigadiers and officers of standing were renowned 
champions. McQueen's special trainer had been the 
right-hand grenadier of his company — a favourite 
soldier. But he had been poisoned with the taint 
of the Mutiny ; and on the great general parade 
designed for the disarming of the Sepoys, this 
champion had suddenly sprung forward out of the 
ranks and shouted to his comrades to rise. But 
McQueen, on the alert, felled him senseless with the 
hilt of his sword. The effect was electric — the 
outbreak was averted. With McQueen's example, 
Browne eventually took to the akhara, as he did to 
everything athletic when he had a chance ; but at 
present he was a novice. A specially close and 
intimate friendship was also now begun with his 


brother Engineer officer, Henry Blair, whose name 
can never be disassociated from the frontier. 

In those days, owing to the unfinished state of the 
roads, and for other reasons, there was not much travel- 
ling of the English upper classes, especially of ladies ; 
and, as the nature of the work — in the midst of 
river foundations and the like — demanded it, Browne 
was as much in the beds of the river and streams as 
on dry land, and on such occasions was of course clad 
in the customary bathing costume. " Oh, look at that 
man down there ! " was an exclamation once heard ; 
" he is so fair, you could hardly suppose him to be 
a native." "Well," was the answer, " he may look 
white enough, but he is really Browne ! " 

In these first days he had one experience which 
must be mentioned. The workmen had taken a fancy 
for him, especially the Ghilzyes. But there were 
also Afreedees, Eusufzais — and other tribesmen from 
the surrounding clans — and these were all much im- 
pressed not only with his cheeriness and good-nature, 
but also with his physique, and, in talking of it, are 
supposed to have chaffed one of their own body, a 
noted puhlwan, or wrestler, with invidious comparisons 
as to the probable issue in case of a struggle. The 
natural result followed. 

On a fitting chance, the puhlwan made some paltry 
objection to the wage, and receiving the reply expected, 
rushed at Browne when off his guard and threw 
him. But, alas for the puhlwan ! fists had not entered 
into his training or calculations : the consequence may 
be imagined, and need not be described. But the 
struggle had been severe, and it taught Browne that 
frankness of manner, however telling and of good 
influence, needs after all the company of some degree 
of discipline. It will be seen from Colonel Taylor's 



remarks 1 how well he learnt the lesson of this 

His work involved a good deal of going about — of 
excursions into the villages of the tribesmen, and 
of ferrying and boating on the river. There he used 
to pick up much information, especially latterly, from 
listening to the talk of the native passengers. On 
one occasion an amusing and very significant alterca- 
tion was overheard between a Pathan and a Sikh. 
The Mahomedan was dilating on the expected advent 
of a new prophet, the Emam Mehndee, who was to 
sweep away the English and rule the world with 
justice. Quoth the Sikh, " Then the Emam himself 
must be English, for they alone are always victorious, 
and at the same time just and wise and merciful, 
and protectors of the poor ! " 

It was while engaged on these duties, or perhaps 
on similar work elsewhere, that Browne had to make 
his bow to his subordinate in a matter which it was 
his delight to describe. The occasion was one in 
which he had to use native boats wherewith to form 
a bridge, and it was necessary to know the safe 
load that could be carried. His native subordinate, 
known as the mistry, aided him in taking various 
measurements, and observed that Browne set to work 
to calculate the displacement, over which he spent 
much time, covering the papers with figures. On 
Browne's announcing the result to the mistry, he 
was rather taken aback by being told that he was 
wrong in his result ; and on going again over his 
figures, he had to acknowledge his mistake. But 
desiring to know how the mistry had arrived at 
the correct conclusion, the man explained that he 
had ordered coolies to fill one of the boats till it 
1 See page 57. 


sank to the safe load line, and then took out what 
had been put in and weighed it ! 

While still an assistant Engineer, and in the same 
division, Browne was, after a short time, moved from 
the Indus and appointed to the specific task of the 
construction of a bridge over the Bara stream, seven 
miles from Peshawur. In calling the Bara a stream, 
its ordinary appearance is indicated ; but on occasions, 
especially after heavy rains in the neighbouring hills, 
it becomes an overwhelming river, a flood, a fierce 
torrent — which was the factor that regulated the dimen- 
sions and character of the bridge, while the unstable 
and water-logged nature of its bed constituted the 
real difficulty to be mastered in its actual construction. 
Incidents, both grave and racy, were ever recurring, 
and his wits had to be ceaselessly at work. In other 
respects the construction of the bridge calls for no 
remark. Its site is where the great Lahore and 
Peshawur trunk road crosses the Bara, about seven 
miles to the east of Peshawur. The abutments 
and piers were of stone and brickwork; the super- 
structure was of woodwork. The bed, which was of 
boulders and gravel, did not admit of well sinking. 
Here at Bara he w T as favoured with a very exceptional 
opportunity for using his own wits, and he took full 
advantage of it. He was practically solitary among 
these wild Pathan workmen, and it was this isolation 
which led to his exceptional intimacy with their ways, 
habits, character, and language, and to his wonderful 
and lifelong influence with them. 

His simple manliness and freedom from convention- 
alities, his bonhomie and joviality, won their hearts 
and their regard. There was no danger or roughness 
in the work in which he did not take his full share. 
Was there any difficulty, under water, in the foun- 


dations or otherwise, he would don his bathing- 
drawers and plunge into the river, so as to learn 
personally the real situation and ensure that the 
necessary steps were taken. 

The following is an instance in point, from a descrip- 
tion given in one of his own letters to his family in 
June, 1861, of one of the high and sudden floods to 
which the Bara river was liable. The special feature 
of the case lay in the fact that a large pile engine had 
just then arrived — the only one, he was informed, in 
India — and therefore specially precious. 

" Last Saturday," he writes, " I had got it " (the 
pile engine) "put up all right, a great big timber 
frame-work about 32 feet high, and about 20 feet 
long, right in the middle of the river, and expected to 
begin work with it on the Monday. Early on Sunday 
morning a man rushed in, saying the river was coming 
down about 5 feet deep, and that I had better look 
out. Out I rushed and secured it with chains, ropes, 
bolts, as best I could (as I had no time to dismantle 
it), and had barely time to do it before the flood was 
on us. The engine gently rose, and 4 crick, crick ' went 
all the ropes and chains, to my great dismay, but after 
swaying about a little, it got to its right bearings and 
manfully stood out. The worst was over, and the 
chains and ropes seemed quite sound and new. The 
river did not rise more than 5 feet, but went on 
flowing quietly at that depth. In the evening all 
seemed right, and the river was going down, so I 
went up to the roof of the house and to bed. About 
twelve o'clock I heard a great shouting from the men 
I had put on guard higher up the river, and tumbling 
out in my nightshirt, I rushed on to the pile engine 
to give the ropes an extra pull or two. 

44 In about three or four minutes I saw the water 
coming down, one huge wave, about 200 feet wide 
and about 16 feet deep, one wall of roaring water. 
On it came, at the rate of fifteen or sixteen miles 
an hour, tearing down the river banks as it came, 
foaming and fretting in the moonlight. It was a 
very grand sight, but not at all to my liking. By 


this time I had about 200 coolies assembled, with 
guy ropes, so I scuttled on shore and anxiously 
expected the effect of the first shock. Down it came 
like a wild beast, breaking high over the pile engine, 
which bent and swayed and rocked, whilst the chains 
were tightened till they were like solid bars of iron. 
Suddenly a great haystack appeared, bearing down 
with tremendous velocity on my unfortunate charge. 
One snap, one shock like the report of a rifle, and 
one of the small chains broke. One after another 
the chains went, sending the coolies flying in all 
directions, with cut faces and bruised bodies ; and off 
went the huge machine, bobbing and ducking as if 
chaffing us all for our trouble. The guy ropes were 
torn from the coolies' hands in a moment. 

" Four of my Sikh guard and myself then plunged 
in after it, and down we went, holding on like grim 
death, with a regular pandemonium of blackies rushing 
all along the bank. First one side, then on the other, 
going round the corners with tremendous velocity, 
now turning round and round in an eddy like a top, 
now plunging along in a straight reach, now stopping 
for a second and then off again with a jerk. During 
these manoeuvres the Sikhs and myself twisted four 
of the chains together. These we fastened to the great 
ram for driving in the piles, a huge mass of iron 
weighing about 2 tons, which was prevented slip- 
ping into the w T ater by two large beams, between 
which it slid. A carpenter swam out to us with a 
hatchet, and turn by turn we went at these beams, 
hitting as never men hit before, till, with a plump, 
the huge piece of iron slipped into the water. Slower 
and slower we went along, the chains tightening more 
and more, with a slip and a jerk now and then, and 
at last we were still, and firmly moored by the ram, 
which had caught into the ground and held us firm 
as a rock. In that short time we had gone down 
about four and a half miles, and a mile farther on 
was a fall in the river about 15 feet high. Five 
minutes more and we would have been over it. We 
were in no danger, as we could have easily saved 
ourselves by swimming ashore, but not a vestige of 
the pile engine would have remained, as it would have 
been all smashed to pieces in the fall. 

" As it is, we have saved everything, thank God. 



One of my men was bitten by a snake, of which at 
least a hundred were crawling about the pile engine. 
It was nasty seeing their cold scales and eyes glisten- 
ing about, and feeling afraid of touching anything for 
fear of being bitten, knowing as we did that most of 
the snakes were poisonous. The worst of it was that 
I had to walk home for five miles without shoes, as 
not a shoe had we in the company. It would have 
rather startled you to see me walking, as I did, into 
my bungalow that day in my nightshirt and praeterea 
nihil, and covered with mud and water from head to 

The following is an account of his methods and 
their results from the pen of his distinguished chief, 
Colonel, now General, Sir Alexander Taylor. 

" Early in his service Browne was attached to the 
Lahore and Peshawur trunk road, then under con- 
struction, and was posted as an assistant Engineer to 
the frontier division near Peshawur. 

" The work requiring the earliest attention was the 
bridge over the Bara River (the same river that caused 
so much trouble at the end of the recent expedition 
into Afridi Land), and the chief difficulties in the way 
of its construction were the depth of the bed, soft 
mud in which the piers had to be founded, and the 
liability of the river to sudden and heavy floods. 

" Browne put work in hand at the close of the rainy 
season, and not long after I paid a visit of inspection. 
In the mud two open excavations for the piers were 
in hand, and every one was very busy. Near one of 
the excavations, seated on the top of a not very dry 
mound of earth, was Browne, his shirt sleeves rolled 
up and his shirt front open. On the same mound, 
but on a lower level and somewhat to his left, was 
a cashier with a supply of small coin. In a similar 
position, somewhat to his right, was a sweetmeat man, 
while between them were musicians of the country 
playing spirit-stirring airs. 

" The procedure was this. The mud-drenched coolie 
came up the slope from the excavation with a basket 
full of mud on his head. Having emptied the basket 
in the prescribed place, he walked to the cashier and 


received a coin, which he placed in security. He then 
moved to the sweetmeats, and receiving one, put it 
into his mouth, much to his satisfaction, while the 
stirring sounds of the musicians helped to circulate 
his blood. 

" Browne from his mound could see the workmen 
in the excavation below, and encouraged them by 
gesture and by words when a pause occurred in the 
music. So the work went busily on. 

" The arrangements answered capitally. It was 
found to be necessary to carry the foundations to a 
greater depth than had been expected, but Browne's 
energy and cheery stimulation rose with the increasing 
difficulties, and infected every one. The piers were 
completed before the inevitable flood came. The 
workmen continued cheery and willing, and the bridge 
was completed in very satisfactory time. Every one 
employed on the w r ork had a good word to say for 
Browne, and all declared that they never saw such 
a ' sahib ' to work for. 

" On many occasions in after years I had to visit 
extensive works on which large numbers of unruly 
trans-frontier men were employed by him and Blair, 
and can testify to the extraordinary influence these 
two officers exercised over them. Browne's way of 
tackling the difficulty met w r ith much remark and 

While thus working so entirely in unison with these 
wild tribesmen, being absolutely alone among them, 
he seized every opportunity and took every means to 
acquire a thorough knowledge of them. He would 
join them around the evening watch-fires, share their 
meals, and learn and sing their songs and ballads, 
while his clear moral and consistent bearing as a 
gentleman and a Christian, however hearty and jovial 
his humour, won their respect. 

To his departmental superiors he soon became no 
less marked as an Engineer of skill and practical 
ingenuity and resource, especially for such pioneer 
work ; and his admirable management and efficiency 


gained for him the complete confidence not only of 
Sir Alexander Taylor, but of the great body of leading 
Engineers whose names were household words on 
that northern frontier; so that he twice received the 
thanks of Government. Then after two years of work 
as an assistant Engineer he was promoted to the 
executive — the independently responsible — grade. 

On promotion to the executive grade, his first charge 
was that of the Kohat division, which included not 
only his recent charges as a sub-division, but all 
else in the whole stretch of wild and virgin frontier 
country extending from Kohat in the north to 
Kusmore on the Indus far south on the borders of 
Scinde. To this was shortly afterwards added the 
Peshawur and Hazara districts, making a division 
of 400 miles in length ! This brought him into 
intimate contact, through the labour he had to employ, 
with the whole varied series of wild frontier tribes, 
mainly Pathan, but partly also Beloochee, occupying 
the Punjab border, from Bonair and Hazara in the 
north, through the country of the Eusufzais, Afreedees, 
and Khyberees, through Kohat, Bunnoo, Tank, and 
the Derajat, to the Beloochee tracts occupied by the 
Sheoranees, Khusranees, and Moosa Kheyls, and, still 
farther south, the Murrees and Bhoogtees. This 
charge he held until the end of 1863, in a very trying 
climate and amidst dangerous surroundings. 

The variety of the classes of work which he had to 
carry out was unique. Besides the ordinary buildings 
required for civil stations and cantonments, such as 
Peshawur, Kohat, Bunnoo, and Dera Ishmael Khan, 
he erected churches at Attock and Nowshera, numer- 
ous forts all along the frontier, casemated batteries 
at Khairabad opposite Attock, and barracks, with 
complete accessory accommodation, for a whole British 


regiment, at Peshawur ; besides training works for the 
Indus in the Derajat, well-sinking everywhere, and 
so on. 

Kusmore, at the south end of his charge, was at 
the bend of the Indus — where the embankments were 
large, as the site was ticklish, and the results of a 
breach would be very serious. In later years, he had 
to deal again with the matter; and he was instru- 
mental in securing attention to the gravity of this 
question, the security of the course of the Indus — 
though it has never apparently been thoroughly dealt 
with to the present day. 

At Kooshalgurh, in the course of this work, he 
narrowly escaped a fatal stoppage of his career. For 
while he was surveying along the edge of the high 
bank of the Indus, and moving the telescope of the 
theodolite round so as to bear from one point to 
another, he missed his footing and was precipitated 
down the steep cliff for about fifty feet into the river, 
and got much bruised and cut and torn, but fortunately 
no bones were broken. In what might have been a 
tragedy there was a bit of comedy, for as he went 
tumbling from one projection to another he continued 
to hear the cries of the attendants, in great alarm, 
" Enough, Sahib, enough — stop, stop ! " 

It may be remarked that the varied districts in 
which his work lay during these first three years of 
frontier work, led to an exceptional knowledge not 
only of this north-western frontier, and of trans- 
frontier events and politics, but also of the varying 
characteristics and differences of the several frontier 
clans, and of the habits and ways, the language and 
character, of the people generally. It was less an 
intimacy, such as was customary, with the native 
officers and troops there — though he also possessed 


and enjoyed this to a marked degree — than with the 
wild tribesmen of the country districts into which no 
one but he seemed to wander freely ; sleeping in their 
huts, partaking of their hospitality, and joining in 
their songs and amusements. He saw and benefited 
by all the better side of their nature, and never seems 
to have suffered from their fanatical tendencies. As 
a feature of their exceptional bearing to him, they 
had no hesitation in sending their women-folk to 
guide him from one village to another. 

While thus engaged vigorously in practical work 
he learnt and mastered more and more thoroughly 
the local vernaculars of the tribes, besides studying 
the Oriental classics, such as Persian and Oordoo, and 
also learning Beloochee. Lastly, he passed the tests 
in Pushtoo, and was the first officer in India to do 
so. This was a valuable acquisition, as it was the 
vernacular language of the Pathans. In saying that 
he was the first officer to pass in the language, it is 
not meant that no officer had previously studied and 
acquired it ; but previously there had been no test 
or recognition for the study. Sir Luther Vaughan 
had produced textbooks for the language, and was, 
so to speak, a past master when Browne was under 

At this epoch, it may be mentioned, he was devoted 
to engineering, and used to express the utmost repug- 
nance to turning to the civil, the political, or any other 
line of employment. 

The excessive burden imposed upon Browne during 
the short time he was at Peshawur is obvious. But 
in his letters he comments but slightly on this, 
dwelling more on the satisfaction of having his time 
fully occupied, and being free from any inducement 
to spend the midday of the hot summer months in 


sleep like the majority of officers on cantonment 

To turn to the outside world, the Russians had 
been advancing in the more northern regions of 
Central Asia ; but had not been attracting much 
public attention. The famous Ameer of Afghanistan, 
Dost Mahomed, had died during the middle of the 
year, and consequently dissension and anarchy in 
that country had begun again, and now continued 
without cessation for six years — six years of the 
highest importance. Unfortunately, too, Lord Elgin, 
the Governor-General, now died suddenly after a 
very brief rule, and was succeeded after an interval 
of a month or so by Lord Lawrence. 

Further, it was becoming obvious that, although 
some of the old kingly characters of the frontier, 
such as Herbert Edwardes, might still be there, the 
former vigorous, masterful style of personal rule by 
the local officers was being " toned down," so to speak, 
and the political guidance of the borders and the 
border tribes was being shifted from these local 
border officers to the official centre of the Punjab 
Government at Lahore itself, of which more presently. 

At the same time, this period of his career was 
probably the one in which Browne enjoyed life more 
thoroughly than in any other. He was prospering, 
in much favour both with his comrades and with the 
natives, with whom his exceptional social relations 
have been already described. He was a welcome 
guest wherever he had to stop, and brimful of fun. 
He was in splendid health and vigour, and full of 
the most buoyant and joyous spirits ; and when he 
and his special friend and brother officer, Henry Blair, 
foregathered, they were quite irrepressible. A story 
is told of them at Bunnoo, where on one of the hottest 



nights in the year, sleep being hopeless, the three 
chums on the roof of the house improvised a concert 
with a banjo and tum-tum (or drum), Browne taking 
in falsetto the part of the Nautch girl, as he had 
a very musical and correct ear. However much 
scandalised by the false ideas that were at first 
formed, even the most prim and censorious of their 
neighbours were much amused and entertained by 
the actual facts when they transpired. 

While going along the frontier, he used to be 
somewhat rash, from exuberance of spirits, and from 
sympathy with the tribes, in crossing over the frontier 
in despite of rules, and seeing and learning for himself 
the ways of the people. He was regarded and treated 
quite differently from all others — as a really free 
lance. He learnt much that was strange to other 
Englishmen from these adventurous habits, in which, 
however, there was shrewdness and method, in spite 
of the apparent rashness. 

All this, it may be observed, occurred southwards 
from Attock. Hazara was, it seems, the only district 
north of the Lahore and Peshawur line to which he 
had penetrated up to this time. 

One of these adventures is worth recording more 
fully. He was going through the bazaar one day, 
when he saw an old Afghan, carrying some skins for 
sale, who was being maltreated by the natives. He 
had been beaten and stoned, and had received 
several wounds. 

Browne, who always carried a stick, went to his 
rescue, drove off his assailants, took him home 
with him to his bungalow, fed him, and kept him 
until his wounds were healed and he had done his 
business of selling skins. The old man was deeply 
grateful, and said to him : " Sahib, you have saved 


my life, and I have eaten your salt. I should like to 
show I am grateful. Will you when you get leave 
come and pay me a long visit ? " He then gave him a 
jewel, to be used as a talisman or amulet, and said, 
" Take care of this, show it at the frontier — it will 
serve as a safe conduct, and you will be cared for as 
if you were my son." 

This Afghan's tribe occupied a territory in 
Afghanistan where no Englishman had ever been, 
and at that time officers could get no permission 
from Government to visit such countries, lest com- 
plications should arise if any harm happened to 

Browne therefore decided not to seek the Govern- 
ment's permission, but having secured three months' 
leave, he started for the border, armed with his amulet 
and gun. He slipped past the English sentries late 
at night, for fear of being stopped, and once across 
the border, when he mentioned the Afghan's name and 
showed his amulet, he was treated with the greatest 
courtesy. Ten men accompanied him, and after four 
days' journey he reached the village, of which, as it 
turned out, the old fellow was mullick, or headman. 
He was received with open arms ; and during his 
stay of three months he acquired the language and 
also a great deal of the knowledge of the border 
tribes for which he was so remarkable later on in 
his life. The old chieftain used to say to him, "The 
Afghan nation is like the horse with ears turned in 
two directions, one ear for England, the other ear 
for Russia — fearful of both countries and listening 
to their every movement." 




BETWEEN the date of Browne's joining the 
Mahsood Wuzeeree expedition at Dera Ishmael 
Khan and the close of his charge of the frontier 
division of Public Works — i.e. between i860 and 1863 — 
a very great and serious, if not actually fundamental, 
change had been gradually getting introduced into 
the civil and political management of the Punjab 
frontier. This change lay in the substitution of rule 
by regulations and courts with the intervention of 
pleaders and petty officials, and the consequent spread 
of bribery and corruption and oppression, in place 
of the original system introduced by Sir Henry Law- 
rence and his exceptional staff (Mackeson, Edwardes, 
Nicholson, Abbott, Bechor, and the like), the system 
of personal intercourse, and open-air courts — the 
village Peepul-tree justice as it used to be called. 
The result now in progress was to drive out our well- 
wishers across the borders into foreign ground, where 
they had then, from their inferiority in numbers and 
want of standing, to do as others did, and to join in 

65 5 


and commit themselves to the local intrigues and 
hostilities against the British. 

Such, briefly, was the essence of the radical change 
that was being introduced from about i860 into the 
administration of the Punjab frontier. At first that 
administration had been placed in the hands of 
soldiers chiefly, and had been carried on for eleven 
years with the greatest success, as was specially clear 
after the Punjab had been settled, the Mutiny crushed, 
and the frontier management and its good results 
had developed. The system that was introduced at 
the first for the administration of the province and 
for the selection of the officers can be best learnt and 
grasped by a perusal of such books as the Lives of 
Sir Henry Lawrence, Sir John Lawrence, and Sir 
Herbert Edwardes, and Men and Events of my Time 
in India, by Sir Richard Temple. 

It will suffice, at present, to restrict our remarks 
to a group of officers in one small sphere alone, on 
the northern frontier, who had made that frontier 
famous and given it a repute which is ever green. 
The names, so well known there, in those first days — 
Mackeson, Chamberlain, Lumsden, Sidney Cotton, 
Edwardes, John Nicholson, Abbott, James, Taylor, 
and others — were still just as fresh as if they were 
present on the spot, and equally revered, though 
years had elapsed since some of them had passed 

First of all, Mackeson, who during the first Afghan 
war, while our own frontier was at Ludhiana and 
Ferozpoor on the Sutlej, and the great Sikh power 
was still holding the Punjab the whole way up 
to Peshawur, managed, with the support of Sir 
Henry Lawrence at his side, to control the tribes 
of the Khyber while all was chaos in Afghanistan. 


6 7 

No name was more revered and respected than his ; 
no reputation on the frontier is equal to that which 
he secured ; and his name and deeds have remained 
as fresh in the memory of the Khyber tribes as 
if he were still present and alive amongst them. 

Lord Dalhousie's orders explain truly and simply 
what the man was, and they are worth repeating 
here. " The reputation of Lieutenant-Colonel Mackeson 
as a soldier is known to and honoured by all. His 
value as a political servant of the State is known 
to none better than to the Governor-General himself, 
who in a difficult and eventful time had cause to 
mark his great ability, and the admirable prudence, 
discretion, and temper, which added tenfold value 
to the high soldierly qualities of his public character." 
"The loss of Colonel Mackeson's life would have 
dimmed a victory. To lose him thus by the hand 
of a foul assassin [a Gazee fanatic] is a misfortune 
of the heaviest gloom for the Government which 
counted him among its bravest and best." 

To turn next, say, to John Nicholson, Lord 
Lawrence thus spoke of him : " I think of him as one 
without whom perhaps not even Englishmen would 
have ever taken Delhi. I can hardly say more, but 
this I will say, that as long as an Englishman survives 
in India, the name of John Nicholson will never 
be forgotten." In saying those few words, he spoke 
with intense earnestness and feeling — in fact, with 
deep emotion; for they had not always been on the 
best of terms. 

Not far behind these two, either in character, 
bravery, or devotion to the service, were others who 
have been mentioned with them. Think of Abbott 
holding Hazara in check at one of the stormiest 
periods of Punjab history solely by his personal 


influence and unaided. Think of Edwardes' career 
from Mooltan and Bunnoo to Peshawur, the virtual 
framer of the treaty with Dost Mahomed, the author 
of the Afreedee army in the Mutiny. Think of 
George Lawrence at Peshawur at another stormy 
period — and of Sidney Cotton and Neville Chamberlain 
and Harry, otherwise Joe, Lumsden, whose names 
are household words on the frontier. Kaka 1 James 
too, as he was called at Peshawur, was still there, a 
man of tried strength, with a reputation second to 
none, but now beginning to feel himself hampered. 

Such were the officers who had been instrumental 
in making the Punjab frontier what it was in its 
early, palmy days ; and it has been shown, in the 
beginning of this chapter, what changes had been 
since creeping in up to the era of 1862. 

Except on the trans-frontier, or on the very borders, 
there had been no ill-feeling, no state except of perfect 
tranquillity anywhere else in the Punjab ; and the 
high officials of the province had been more taken 
up, ostensibly, with infanticide and missionary con- 
ferences, and the like, than frontier politics, though, 
as described, the system there was being changed, 
and men like Herbert Edwardes were glad to leave 
it for more interior posts, such as Umballa. 

But meanwhile a very serious evil had begun to 
arise in India — a wave of religious fanaticism, not of 
the wild frontier description, but of deep-seated 
sectarianism or proselytism, of which the site and 
origin lay at Patna far away to the south, on the 
borders between the North-west Provinces and Bengal. 
It had existed there during the Mutiny and had caused 
the Dinapore outbreak, but it had, for the time, been 
overshadowed by the excited feelings of that crisis. 

1 Kaka means " Uncle." 


It had been since then vigorously at work, and had 
found a site for mischief just outside the most northern 
border of British India, and had begun to people it 
with the defeated Mahomedans of the late Sepoy 
army. That site was precisely in the close neigh- 
bourhood of the Akhoond of Swat and other wild 
Afghan fanatics already described. 

Though well watched, this fanatical centre was now 
—in 1863 — growing into a serious evil, and fresh 
adherents were being rapidly forwarded by the Patna 
Propaganda, for the suppression of which the local 
Government had taken no adequate steps ; and other 
evils were beginning to prevail. It was known that 
Russia was on the war-path — far off, however, at 
present, in the Kirghiz country — and though some- 
what ostentatiously holding aloof from Afghanistan 
borders, was really vigorously at work there, foment- 
ing the fratricidal war which had immediately followed 
on the death of the old Ameer Dost Mahomed, and 
was also filling India with emissaries to create excite- 
ment and keep the people in a ferment. 

The action and attitude of the Wahabee fanatics at 
Sitana near the Akhoond's domicile, as above described, 
were now becoming serious and attracting attention. 
They had taken part in one of the border raids four 
years before, and their present attitude seemed to 
make it necessary to adopt strong measures and to 
attack and destroy their colony. 

It was not till later years that Browne was so 
much interested in the political questions. At present 
he was more boyishly excited at the prospects of 
warfare and combat. Still the matters that were 
then stirring the surface of the waters covered a very 
wide range. They were not merely local matters ; 
there was much more to be dealt with — much more 


at issue than usual and much that needed both 
judicious and vigorous treatment. Unfortunately the 
treatment does not seem to have been either judicious 
or vigorous. 

As a matter of course, the agitation — if not actual 
scare — that now existed or arose very quickly was 
widely ascribed to Russian intrigues, but on only 
slight foundation. It is certain that at this period — 
towards the end of 1863 — no overt hostile action had 
yet been shown on the part of Russia. Her troops 
in Asia were engaged in the northern Kirghiz tracts ; 
and there were no prominent emissaries of rank or 
weight hovering in the neighbourhood of Afghanistan. 
But there were suspicious characters and secret 
intriguers abroad all along the northern frontier and 
scattered through the plains of the Punjab, spreading 
rumours of the approach and of the hidden presence, 
in disguise, of Russian soldiery. As Sir Herbert 
Edwardes described them, " These fellows, in such 
times as the present, are just showing themselves 
sufficiently, like snakes putting their heads out of 
their holes in the rains, so as to keep up alarm and 
agitation." As an instance of the result, not far from 
Umballa where Sir Herbert then was, a large village 
was suddenly, during the night, scared and emptied 
by the vague rumour of an impending raid by a party 
of Russian troops ! In some of the chief cities of the 
Punjab tales were rife of a Sikh rising, and some 
of the missionaries were warned against an " imminent 

These remarks will show that the expedition against 
the fanatic settlement at Sitana was causing an agita- 
tion the virulence of which must have been largely 
due to many other and wholly extraneous causes quite 
outside anything connected with the Punjab. In fact, 



there can be little doubt that Russian intrigue was 
at the bottom of it. At any rate not only now, 
but throughout the whole of Browne's career the 
principal public subject ever pressing on his mind 
and attention was the attitude and designs of Russia 
against India. From the days of the blunder of the 
Crimean war Russia had accepted the challenge 
which it seemed to imply, not for that one contest 
only, but for a permanent struggle in the East; and 
Browne had from time to time a broad and vivid 
recognition of this fact forced on him. 

What with the insidious movements of Russia, the 
state of the frontier and the measures now impending, 
the late Governor-General, Lord Elgin, had evidently 
thought it advisable to be near the seat of operations 
against Sitana — and he had left Simla shortly before 
for a tour along the Lower Himalayas towards Kooloo 
and the neighbouring hills where he would be with- 
in reach of the passes near the Indus. Most un- 
fortunately, however, he was not in vigorous health, 
and hence, as he was essaying to traverse one of the 
pliant rope bridges peculiar to those mountains, his 
heart got seriously affected, leading to a fatal issue. 
This catastrophe, with all the other circumstances of 
the frontier troubles, made the state of public affairs a 
very anxious one, if not actually critical. Temporary 
arrangements had to be made forthwith, and the 
ferment was such that John Lawrence was sent out in 
hot haste as the new Viceroy — a departure from the 
old practice, that the Viceroy must be a peer, but 
held to be indispensable in view of the crisis. 

Meanwhile Browne, as executive Engineer in the 
Peshawur districts, had been busy preparing the 
professional arrangements and requirements for the 
expedition — such as its field and Engineer park — 


and collecting them all at the starting-point, Nowakilla, 
a short distance from Peshawur, frontier-wards. He 
was directly attached to Colonel Taylor as field 
Engineer, and in charge of the Engineer park, as well 
as interpreter to the expeditionary force, which was 
under the command of Sir Neville Chamberlain as in 
the Wuzeeree business. 

An obligatory portion of the route to be traversed 
by the force was the Umbeyla Pass — Sitana could 
not be reached otherwise from the Peshawur direction. 
But the whole operation was to be at first a profound 
secret. Hence it was essential to divert attention 
from any thought of using the Umbeyla Pass. The 
detachments from Peshawur, then, began to assemble 
at Nowakilla, and the first party to advance thence 
moved in accordance with the above plan, not 
towards the Pass, but to the village of Durrum, 
quite off that route. But the next day, both a second 
party from Nowakilla and the first party at Durrum 
marched towards the mouth of the Umbeyla Pass, 
and there peacefully halted for the night of October 

Next day, on the morning of October 20th, the 
west end of the Pass was entered, and the Umbeyla 
campaign began. It was under the military com- 
mand of Sir Neville Chamberlain and the political 
guidance of Colonel Reynell Taylor, who had already 
sent to the Bonairwals and to Chumla the formal 
official proclamation of the intention of the British 
carefully to avoid molesting the tribes in any way 
and to proceed against the Sitana Hindoostanees 
only. There had been some slight desultory sniping 
while the force advanced to the east end of the Pass, 
where it camped, but no damage had occurred, and 
all was quiet at night both about the camp and also 


at the entrance of the west end of the Pass. Colonel 
Alexander Taylor, of Delhi fame, was chief Engineer 
of the force, and his assistants — all of them subalterns 
— were Blair, Browne, and Carter. 

The Umbeyla campaign, then, was opened by our 
unexpected and deceptive entry into the Umbeyla 
Pass (which lay immediately beyond our own proper 
frontier) in order to find our way eastwards 
through it, and then through the Chumla country to 
the Mahabun Mountain on the Indus, where the 
Hindoostanee fanatical settlement at Sitana was 
to be attacked and destroyed. 

The clan that dominated the Umbeyla Pass and 
the plain beyond it were called the Bonairwals, whose 
chief location was the village of Bonair, situated just 
outside the Pass itself at the eastern end of the 
northern slopes of the Guroo Hill, a mountain which 
formed the northern side or ridge of the Pass. The 
valley, as it may be called, of the Pass, once it became 
a Pass at its west end, sloped up nearly straight 
eastwards, gently, but along very rough and im- 
practicable ground for about eight miles, till it reached 
its eastern end, when the route, debouching suddenly 
down steep but open ground into the more level 
Chumla country, led away, in a north-easterly direc- 
tion, to the Sitana site. 

The Pass was entered, as has been described, and 
so the war began — technically — on the morning of 
October 20th. By the evening the bulk of the force, 
including the guns, had reached the high or eastern 
end of the Pass, whence the exit descended suddenly 
and steeply into the Chumla Plain beyond, as above 

The site of the camp at the east was on suitable 
ground on the narrow levels between the two hill 


slopes forming the valley or pass where the ground, 
first gradually, then sharply, sloped up right and 
left into the northern and southern ranges or ridges 
which were on the two flanks of the position. Its 
front was to the east, where the advance would lie, 
and its rear to the west, whence the rear-guard and 
baggage had still to come up. Browne was first sent 
back to help it up and remove difficulties. He 
found the entrance to the Pass obstructed by a couple 
of rocks which had fallen inwards from the opposite 
sides or slopes. Instead of removing the obstructions, 
he rilled up the ends of the narrow channel so 
formed, and then built ramps from each side to the 
top of the rocks and so passed all the traffic over it. 

It had been hoped that the political arrangements 
would prevent any serious opposition or molestation 
to the force on its way through and beyond the Pass ; 
and the secrecy with which the movement was carried 
out did, as a fact, minimise all difficulties for two 
or three days. But, though the tribes were not at 
once seriously alarmed, the Hindoostanee settlement, 
which had been all along wide awake and on the 
alert, had roused the fanatical or professional religious 
leaders of the tribes, the Akhoond, the Moolvee, and 
others in their own neighbourhood ; and a jehad or 
religious war had been forthwith proclaimed. 

The result, which will now be dealt with, was one 
of the most singular, persistent, and stubborn conflicts 
ever thoroughly fought out to a finish, and was filled 
daily with brilliant and exciting incidents ; so as to 
represent a romantic and stirring tale of a prolonged 
contest instead of only that of a short couple of 
months. This impending result did not become 
apparent till the following evening, October 22nd. 

After the halt on October 21st to bring up the 


baggage and pull the force together, and while nothing 
serious was going on, a reconnaissance in force, 
eastwards, w T as made on the 22nd under Colonel 
Taylor, the chief Engineer, whom Browne accompanied. 
He examined the country for some ten miles eastwards, 
keeping clear and to the south of the villages that 
were to be let alone, and returning in the evening ; 
by which time an adequate knowledge of particulars 
and of the lie of the country had been obtained. The 
Bonair town lay on the north side of the Guroo 
Hill, but east of it ; Umbeyla lay some miles farther 
beyond to the east ; other villages still farther to the 
south-east, and so on. And now, on returning, Taylor 
found the Bonair people, who had been announced 
as friendly, advancing southward, from their town 
on the north, towards the foot of the Pass as if to 
intercept him. A skirmish ensued : Taylor drove off 
the Bonairwals and duly reached the camp, but the 
Bonair people closed in behind the party, and kept 
up a fight all night with it. That party and post 
afterwards formed the advanced picket of the position. 
There Browne remained all night — joining in the 
scrimmage and meeting with some adventures. 

His special function as an Engineer was to 
strengthen this position and assist the defence of the 
picket ; hence he was all night engaged on its out- 
skirts, and this brought him twice into conflict with 
isolated Bonairwals creeping forward into the position. 
The first of them he had marked down at a spot 
whence he had been keeping up an unpleasant fire ; 
and pouncing on him at last, he cut him down and 
stopped his doing any further mischief. Then, later 
on, he came unwittingly on an ambushed foe and 
was himself suddenly and vigorously attacked. The 
combat that issued was typical — nay, Homeric. The 


Bonair's tulwar was of superb steel, a splendid 
weapon. It shattered Browne's sword at the hilt ; 
but with that hilt Browne felled his foe to the ground, 
receiving, however, a slash on the arm at the same 
time. A struggle ensued. Browne, hammering the 
enemy, mastered him in spite of his wound, and 
seizing the tulwar, slew him with it, and ever held it 
as the choicest in his collection of trophies. He was 
thenceforward a special hero in the eyes of the 20th 
Punjab Infantry who formed the picket and witnessed 
the combat. 

It had been hoped by the political officers that there 
would be no opposition at all on the part of the tribes ; 
but this fond idea had been ruthlessly swept away, 
and the hostility which had been roused in them out- 
stripped immeasurably the force of any opposition 
that could be met with only from those to whom 
we had expected the contest against us would be 

Hence this episode of October 22nd, with the obvious 
combination against us of the three parties — the 
Hindoostanees, the Akhoond fanatics, and the local 
tribes — altered the whole aspect of the case, of the 
outlook, and of the policy and line of action to be 
adopted. The enemy, already in obviously superior 
strength, were increasing in numbers. An immediate 
attack on them was out of the question. All that was 
possible was to retain and strengthen the position 
held in the Pass, await reinforcements, and defer 
further aggressive action till the enemy should have 
felt our strength. Steps were therefore forthwith 
taken to send back all encumbrances, and make the 
camp and its defences as compact and strong as 
possible, and also to press for an increase to the 
reinforcements that had been already arranged for. 


The site of the British position included a collection 
of rocky peaks and the like, which, if turned into 
breastworks and held by us, would greatly strengthen 
it, but if occupied by the enemy would make it insecure, 
if not untenable. There were on the north slope the 
Eagle's Nest and some minor posts, on the south slope 
the Crag Picket, the Conical Hill, and others. The 
camp lay- south of the Eagle's Nest and north-west 
of the Crag Picket and the Conical Hill. 

It was known forthwith that the Hindoostanees and 
at least three large tribes were advancing against the 
British position, and the next day, the 25th, they 
attacked the right pickets, but were repulsed, while 
the tribesmen on the left, on the Guroo Hill, did not 
attack, because the Bonair clan held somewhat aloof, 
Next day, however, the Eagle's Nest, the peak on the 
left, was attacked in force, as well as another near it ; 
but both were gallantly held, the enemy was driven 
off, and the Engineers so strengthened these posts 
that it was decided to occupy them permanently. 

By October 30th, besides the Sitana men, the tribes 
that had collected were in great force, such as the 
Hussunzyes, the Chuggurzyes, the Muddar Kheyls. 
the Bonairs, the Salurzyes, the Dowlazyes, and the 
Gadarzyes. The Swatees, too, were gathering and 
advancing (some 3,000) and the Bajourees from greater 
distances ; the Mullazyes also under the Rajah of 
Dir, and so on. It was clear that there was a general 
combination of all the tribes between the Indus and 
Cabul. Old animosities were being held in abeyance, 
and, under the influence of the fanaticism, tribes that 
were usually at feud with each other were hastening 
in concert to join the Akhoond and fight for " the 
Faith." Further, the Akhoond had heretofore been 
opposed to the Sitana Moolvee as being the repre- 


sentative of a heretical sect ; but now these two were 
united in a common cause. 

On October 30th the enemy advanced in force and 
attacked both the right and the front of the camp, 
but were repulsed without difficulty, leaving some 
forty dead on the ground. The Crag Picket, too, 
had first been rushed by the enemy, and then imme- 
diate^ retaken by Keyes. 

By November 7th — i.e. in a fortnight after the 
formation of a definite position at this camp had 
been decided on — the arrangement that had been 
planned for it was carried out. It had become evident 
that the Umbeyla Defile could not be long depended 
on as the line of communication with the rear. Hence 
a new route to the rear had been devised and con- 
structed by the south instead of the west. This was 
to Permuli, running by the villages of Khanpore and 
Sherdurra and over the heights on the right or 
south flank of the position. 

The surveying and reconnoitring for these routes, 
the defending and strengthening of the several posts, 
rushing to the help of the pickets when attacked, and 
the multifarious Engineer duties, kept Browne and 
his brother officers hard at work day and night. 
And now, on the completion of this new line of 
communication to the rear, they had another diffi- 
cult task to carry out — the withdrawal from the 
whole of the northern position (i.e. about the Eagle's 
Nest, and all that northern slope which they had 
been holding up till now), and the concentration 
instead on the positions on the southern slope 
about the Crag Picket, the Water Picket, and the 
Conical Hill. 

By November 14th this withdrawal from the 
northern slopes had been carried out as proposed, 


and the whole force was concentrated at the southern 
position. But the Bajourees and other great acces- 
sions to the enemy had now arrived ; and so they 
proceeded to attack the Crag Picket in force. At 
first they succeeded in driving the defenders out of 
it, fighting hard and suffering severely ; but the tables 
were speedily turned. The ioist Fusiliers in the 
camp turned out and formed up at once, doubled the 
whole way up the hillside without a halt, charged 
over the defences into the picket ground, and hurled 
the tribesmen over the opposite side of the position 
down the precipice. Those who were there and 
witnessed the sight said it was one that could never 
fade out of vision — not merely the actual impact of 
the Fusiliers on the clansmen, but the even unchecked 
race of the whole battalion, in formation, up the steep 
hill at a good stiff pace! 

The serious feature of the Crag Picket was that 
owing to its steepness there were no means of seeing 
the movements of the enemy immediately on its far 
side, during their approach to its summit, and so 
forth. Hence they could collect close under the 
stockade unseen, and then at their own time and 
signal dash over en masse in two or three seconds. 
The only deterrent was the use of what was called 
" Umbeyla Pegs " — i.e. soda-water bottles filled with 
gunpowder or explosives, and fitted with short time 
fuses, forming practically extemporised grenades. 

There was heavy fighting again on November 20th, 
and the Crag Picket was the scene of attack and capture 
and recapture for the third time ; and though contests 
continued and there was no intermission in the daily 
ceaseless sniping and skirmishing, no attack so serious 
as heretofore seems to have been again attempted after 
the 20th. This was an important stage in the struggle. 


General Chamberlain was wounded on this day, and 
had to resign the command to General Garvock. And 
now signs were apparent of the early ending of the 
struggle. Reinforcements, on the one hand, were 
rapidly arriving ; and, in spite of the heavy losses, 
there was soon an effective force present of nearly 
8,000 men. Major James, too, the political officer of 
the frontier, had returned from England and was 
on the spot, and had at once begun to influence not 
the fanatics, but the tribes, who were now seeing 
that they had been entirely misled when cajoled into 
supposing that we had ever intended to meddle with 

About November 25th, then, General Garvock took 
over the command at Umbeyla from Sir Neville, but 
he did not start from the position which they had 
been holding, and move to attack the enemy's posts 
and finish the contest, till December 14th. These 
operations will be shortly described. 

But a few words may first be said of the general 
aspect of the camp and its life during the seven or 
eight weeks it had been held. The fighting had been 
daily, and ceaseless. There was no day on which 
there was not some sort of an attack on some 
post or other. The Engineers were at work day and 
night, but there was no intermission in their jollity 
and the liveliness that spread round from their 
tents. They were present at every bit of fighting, 
and they were noted for their ceaseless part in 
hand-to-hand struggles. Chamberlain — so noted him- 
self in his younger days for personal gallantry and 
swordsmanship — dubbed them " Gladiators n and 
threatened Blair and Browne with arrest ; their 
mirth too in the night watches occasionally called 
down his remonstrances, however valuable the tone 


that resulted. Occasionally Browne's knowledge and 
power of imitation of the tribesmen's songs and 
cries used to come into play and add an unexpected 
feature to the humour of the scene. 

Besides taking his full share of the general Engineer 
duties, Browne had to undertake others which were 
special or exceptional — such as the charge of the 
Engineer park and stores — and the functions of 
Interpreter in all cases of documentary or verbal 
communications with the enemy, as he was the only 
officer who was qualified for the task. 

At length, on December 15th, Garvock began his 
attack. Leaving a reserve of some 3,000 men in the 
camp, he advanced against the enemy with about 5,000 
men and 13 guns, and attacked and carried first the 
fortified positions of Lalloo and other points near it, 
then the spurs leading up from the valleys. Event- 
ually he completely routed the whole of the hostile 
gathering who had been holding that ground. This 
was his first operation. 

Next day the force descended into the valley, and 
finding that the defeated enemy thought of defending 
the approach to Chumla, he advanced against it and 
drove the enemy thence towards the Bonair Pass 
and continued to encircle them, the Bonairwals 
themselves holding absolutely aloof. 

The cavalry then intercepted the retreat of the 
whole of the hostile array and hemmed them in, on 
which the Ghazees {i.e. fanatics under a death vow) 
made a blind rush en masse at the British line 
opposite them, which consisted of the 23rd and 
32nd Pioneers. General Turner, who commanded 
them, met the attack scientifically, strengthening the 
point attacked, and throwing forward the outer 
companies of the regiments so as to flank it. The 



fanatics, like the French Guard at the last charge 
at Waterloo, never gained ground ; they were simply 
swept away by the rifle fire from front and flank 
and annihilated — not a man escaped ! On this 
effective stroke, the rest of the enemy broke, scattered, 
and fled precipitately. The fighting of the campaign 
was over. In this action Browne was severely 
wounded and was warmly praised and thanked by 
General Turner. 

After this the Bonairs and others, under the 
guidance of the British politicals, proceeded to Sitana, 
and burnt down and destroyed the fanatic settlement 
there ; and thus was the object of the campaign 
accomplished. The difficulty and delay of the 
campaign were due to its having been started on 
the supposition that we should have to deal with 
merely a small band of fanatics supported by a few 
special sympathisers, and that our word, that we 
did not mean to interfere with the tribes, would be 

Browne was present at every day's fighting and 
was prominent in the final action, as well as through- 
out. He and his friend Blair were being constantly 
engaged in the hand-to-hand close fighting. He had 
numerous narrow escapes. On one occasion a bullet 
tore away the side of his cap or helmet, and grazed 
his head. He was twice severely wounded, and was 
three times mentioned in the dispatches. Sir Hugh 
Rose's verdict was that his service had been of a 
most distinguished character ; and he was registered 
for a brevet majority, on attaining the regimental 
captaincy, which was not to be till seven years later. 

On this termination of the campaign, the troops 
were withdrawn, and Browne and his party were 
back, on Christmas Day, at Nowakilla, the point from 


which they had started, on the nortn of Peshawur. 
This campaign assured Browne of the same high 
status as a military engineer and officer which his 
work on the Frontier Public Works had secured for 
him as a civil engineer; and he was now free, as 
regards prospects, to take such rest and leave to 
England as might suit him. 




WHEN Browne returned to Nowakilla John 
Lawrence's return to India on his assumption 
of the viceroyalty was the event of the day ; 
and it was followed quickly by the emphatic exposi- 
tion of the frontier policy that was to come into 
force : " Laissez faire " as known to the dissentients — 
" Masterly inactivity " as called by its supporters — 
a deep-seated question of which the merits and issues 
were not to be seen for some years, during which 
however there was persistent movement. 

Up till now, Browne's sole experience of India had 
lain on the Punjab frontier; but, much as he was 
taken with its native community, with the work, and 
with his comrades, there is little doubt that he 
was not at all satisfied with the changes that were 
beginning to appear in the local outlook, and he 
applied for short leave to England during the hot 
weather, and arranged that, at its close, he should 
not necessarily revert to the frontier, but be free 
for other employment and duties. 




One probable reason for this was that, with his 
strong tendency to look ahead, he realised that his 
future tasks would be likely to involve more varied 
engineering, for the study of which he would not 
have time during his coming short-leave, and for 
which he would like to be able to make other arrange- 

His papers show that the altered system of frontier 
management that was now being introduced in the 
Punjab was not at all to his liking, a matter which 
will be dealt with later on ; and he also felt strongly 
the weakness and blunders of the policy and manage- 
ment of the recent campaign both in the diplomatic 
and the resulting military aspect ; while, as far as 
he could foresee, the undesirable system seemed likely 
to be continued. By the military aspect is meant, 
it must be explained, the guidance that lay not with 
the generals, but with the political authorities as 
to the effective action and measures against the 
enemy. That experienced and able frontier com- 
mander, Sir Harry Lumsden, wrote to this effect : 
" It is reported that Captain James, Commissioner of 
Peshawur, is exercising his influence to induce the 
hill tribes to give in and come to terms. My opinion 
is that once we get to blows with natives we should 
not leave off till the latter give in from a conviction 
of their helplessness. A treaty made under other 
circumstances will only prove a source of more 
trouble hereafter and leave an idea in the native mind 
that we give in to them from want of ability to go 
on with the war. Once a shot is fired the politicals 
should retire into private life till called to the front 
again by the supplicant chiefs begging to be let off." 

There can be no doubt that though the enemy we 
meant to attack had been destroyed, the object of 


the expedition had been gained, and the Akhoond 
even had wholly collapsed, still the tribes who had 
joined against us and formed the real difficulty of the 
war had been in nolsense subdued or punished, though 
they had felt themselves unable to beat us. But, 
though thus let off, they had felt and understood our 
strength, and being a manly race, did believe our 
statements and accept the assurance that we had not 
had any intention to meddle with them — and the 
result was that there was peace on that frontier for 
the next sixteen years; not, however, any subjection 
to our supremacy as on the plains of India. 

Major James, it may be observed, was in bad health, 
had hurried back from England at once on hearing 
of the broil ; and was, of course, acting under orders. 
But his career was ended, and he died very shortly 
afterwards ; a great loss, as was universally recog- 
nised, to the frontier administration. 

Further, Browne's three years' presence on the 
frontier, with his close and intimate intercourse with 
the frontier and tribesmen of all classes and ranks, 
had led to his possessing a very keen and sound know- 
ledge of the trans-frontier movements in progress and 
of the current action going on both in Afghanistan 
and beyond. His singular linguistic aptitude, and his 
quite unique powers over certain classes of tribesmen, 
made him a mine of exceptional knowledge which was 
never properly tapped by the authorities, with their 
habitual narrow prejudices, though it served as a 
most valuable guide to himself in steering his course, 
especially when he reverted some years later on — 
almost finally it may be said — to the north-west 
frontier of India. 

These remarks apply not merely to the dealings 
with the Afghans and our attitude towards them, but 



to the " Masterly Inactivity Policy " definitely and 
authoritatively announced at that very time by the 
Viceroy as the treatment and attitude to be maintained 
in India in respect of the movements of Russia. 

This emphatic exposition had been brought about in 
a manner that verged on the ludicrous, almost at once 
becoming common property. 1 Before it was known, in 
consequence of the suddenness of Lord Elgin's death, 
who his successor would be, Sir Bartle Frere, the cham- 
pion of the " Forward Policy," had addressed a letter to 
the new Viceroy (whoever he might be) to meet him at 
one of the ports on his voyage out, pressing that policy 
on him ; little dreaming, of course, that its recipient 
would be the very champion of the opposition or 
" Masterly Inactivity Policy " — Sir John Lawrence 
himself. But so it was ! 

The difference between the two schools, which 
must be explained, is excellently stated in the follow- 
ing passage, cited from Wyllie's Essays on the External 
Policy of India. 

" Afghanistan and Russia 

"In 1865 it was held to be quite possible that in a 
very short time the Russians would have military 
colonies on the Oxus at Charjui and at Takhtapul. 
From Charjui troops might be thrown across the 
desert to Merv, and from Merv the fertile banks of 
the Murgab offered easy access to Herat. Simultane- 
ously a smaller column might proceed through 
Takhtapul and the defiles of the Hindu Khush to 
occupy Kabul. Persia, of course, would act in alliance 
with the invaders, and at Herat the force from 
Charjui might be joined by large Russo-Persian 
reinforcements marching in from the shores of the 
Caspian Sea and the districts of Khorasan. Some 
deiay would occur at Herat, for that city, as the key 
of the position, would have to be fortified and 

1 Vide Wyllie's Essays, page 87. 


provisioned, and a chain of smaller forts on either 
side would have to be established, stretching as far as 
Takhtapul in the north and Lake Seistan in the south. 
But the interval would be well redeemed by disarming 
the hostility and securing the co-operation of the 
Afghans. The darling dream of that whole nation is 
to plunder India, and Russia would offer them that 
guerdon, and the restoration of their old provinces 
of Peshawur and Kashmir to boot. Then some fine 
morning in early spring — unless timely measures of 
prevention were adopted on a scale far above the 
capacity of the Indian Government to comprehend or 
its courage to undertake — forty thousand disciplined 
troops of Russia and Persia, in conjunction with a 
countless horde of wild Afghan auxiliaries, could be 
launched, resistless as an avalanche, upon the doomed 
plains of the southern El Dorado ; and there at once 
is the end of the English Empire of India. 

" Language like this was at this period, 1865, by no 
means uncommon in India ; and the practical remedies 
recommended extended to an immediate re-occupation 
of all Afghanistan. 

" But politicians of another and far higher stamp 
[i.e. of the Bartle-Frere school], while they saw clearly 
that any immediate or even proximate danger of a 
Russian invasion was chimerical, nevertheless looked 
forward with uneasiness to the inevitable day when 

minous, and the presence of a first-class European 
state on our border would have power at any time to 
fan into a flame those elements of sporadic disaffection 
which of necessity are ever smouldering in any 
country won and held, as India was and is, by an 
alien sword. For political reasons of obvious weight, 
these persons believed that it would be in the last 
degree dangerous, should war arise, to have India as 
a battlefield ; and on grounds of military strategy 
they were convinced that sooner or later we ought to 
occupy certain positions beyond our present frontier 
as outworks of the empire. Therefore, advancing 
from Jacobabad, which then was our uttermost station 
on the Scinde border, they would proceed up the 
Bolan Pass through Shawl 1 into Afghanistan, and, 

the Russian and English 

should be conter- 

1 Shawl, i.e. also Shawl Kote — or Koti — is now familiar to us as 


leaving Kabul and Ghazni untouched, they would 
take possession of Kandahar and eventually also of 
Herat, and establish, at these two points, fortresses 
of exceeding strength, to be to India what the 
Quadilateral has been to Venetia, strongholds such as 
no invader would dream of trying to mask. Further, 
the long process of a regular siege would, it was 
argued, be an almost hopeless undertaking in con- 
sequence of the natural poverty of the country, the 
distance of our enemy from their base, and the 
previous destruction of the crops by the besieged. 

"These opinions were held not only by high 
authorities like Sir Justin Sheil and the late General 
John Jacob, but also by Sir Henry Rawlinson, who 
besides his large general experience of war and policy 
in the East, stood facile princeps, as Dr. Vambery 
testified, among all who professed a special knowledge 
of the condition of Central Asia. 

" But the majority of the British public appeared to 
favour a third view of the question. Under the in- 
spiration of a generous optimism, rather than from 
any discriminate appreciation of the dangers to which 
the Indian empire is exposed, they scouted Russo- 
phobia as an exploded fallacy. In the interests of 
humanity they rejoiced that a dayspring of Christian 
civilisation was spreading through the horrible 
blackness of barbarism in which Central Asia had 
hitherto been wrapped ; and they positively grudged 
the interval that must yet elapse before India could 
have a neighbour whose dealings with her would 
be conducted on the clear principles of European 
good faith, and whose settled Government would offer 
new openings for trade. Their vision of the future 
was that of the Cossack and the Sepoy lying down 
like lambs together on the banks of the Indus. 

" Lord Lawrence, the Governor-General of India, 
had been steeped too long in the rough practice of 
actual statesmanship to have much faith in the advent 
of that political millennium when 

"The common sense of most shall keep a fretful realm in awe, 
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law. 

But his opinions with respect to Russia, so far as 
they can be inferred from his public acts, tended 


clearly towards the conclusion which the quietists 
would advocate — a masterly inactivity." 

Broadly speaking, the Forward Policy had origin- 
ated, or rather had been brought into shape, in 1856, 
some eight years before the present crisis : in the 
year before the Mutiny, while Lord Canning and 
Herbert Edwardes were making with Dost Mahomed 
the treaties which immediately afterwards proved so 
all-important ; though John Lawrence had received 
them with strong disfavour, and had agreed to them 
with extreme reluctance. 

The exponents, then, of that policy 1 declared that if 
the red line of England's boundary was to retain its 
position on the map, there was absolute necessity for 
our occupying posts in advance of it. 

"A war," they said, "within our own territory, with 
a European army, might be ruinous to our reputation 
and might entirely undermine our strength, although 
that strength might have sufficed successfully to meet 
a world in arms in a field beyond our own boundary. 

11 There were but two great roads," the argument 

firoceeded to say, " by which an army could invade 
ndia from the north-west — viz. the Khyber Pass 
and the Bolan Pass. Our existing outposts were on 
the hither or Indian side of both these passes — at 
Peshawur as regards the Khyber, and at Jacobabad 
in respect of the Bolan. At Peshawur we might well 
remain as we were, watching the mouth of the defile ; 
but from Jacobabad we were bound in self-preservation 
to advance. 

" To that end, the first step would be to take 
advantage of that article in the existing treaty with 
the Khan of Khelat which permits the cantonment 
of British troops in any part of his territory, and 
proceed accordingly to occupy Quetta. Connected 
with this measure, as its immediate consequences, 
would come a continuation of the Sind Railway to the 

1 The Bombay school — Jacob, Bartle Frere, Henry Green, and 


foot of the Bolan Pass, and the construction of a good 
road through the Pass. 

"Next, 'we should take into our pay a body of 
Belooch Irregulars, who, politically, would be useful 
as a link or connection with the native inhabitants, 
and who, in a military capacity, might be to us what 
the Cossacks are to the Russian army. Having thus 
established ourselves in Beloochistan, we should 
subsidise the Afghans, and pave the way for a peace- 
able occupation of Herat. With a proper garrison at 
Quetta, and 20,000 men in the fortress of Herat, we 
should not only block the Bolan route, but be able 
to operate with destructive effect on the flanks and 
rear of any invader attempting to proceed by way 
of the Khyber; and then India would be as firmly 
locked in our grasp as if surrounded by the ocean." 

These proposals, ever since their original publica- 
tion, had been the theme of endless controversy in the 
press, and their general principles had secured the 
favourable opinion of weighty authorities such as Sir 
Henry Rawlinson and Sir Justin Sheik But the 
more pressing public needs following on the Mutiny, 
and especially the reorganisation of the whole internal 
administration of India itself, had thrown the subject, 
for the time, into the background. 

But now that it was resuscitated — and resuscitated 
moreover by Sir Bartle Frere in the way that has 
been described — the new Viceroy laid the matter 
forthwith before the Council. 

He explained that he, John Lawrence, had all along 
known and been familiar with these arguments, that 
he had never at any time recognised their validity, 
and that he saw nothing in the present condition 
of Central Asia to lead him now to a different con- 
clusion. Of the strategic advantages of occupying 
Quetta there was doubt, while some of its political 
disadvantages were obvious. The expense would be 
enormous, and the jealousy would be aroused not 


only of the Afghan, but of the Persian court also. 
Furthermore, it would always be open to us to occupy 
Quetta and subsidise the Beloochees at any period 
when the imminence of any real danger to our power 
might render such a step expedient. 

" In the meantime," he concluded by saying, " I 
am absolutely opposed to this undertaking." Thus 
spoke the champion of " Masterly Inactivity," who 
had been just selected to save India in what was 
supposed to be a second great crisis — a dictator 
whose judgment none dared to dispute. And all 
this while Afghanistan was in a state of absolute 
anarchy — a state so hopeless and helpless that it 
took five years of strife and rack and misery before 
the land began to emerge into the glimmerings of 
more orderly rule. 

Now Browne's mind was far in advance of his 
years, especially in respect of public affairs ; and he 
was quite exceptional, if not singular — and even 
single — in his breadth and independence of thought. 
The direction of his bent now seemed very decidedly 
to be towards a claim to absolute independence in 
action whenever there was full responsibility imposed 
by entire absence of specific instructions. This was, 
of course, coupled with the strict discipline demanded 
in respect of implicit obedience and genuine compli- 
ance and furtherance in the case of clear and positive 
orders. It is necessary to write this, because he was 
exceptionally ready to accept responsibility and act 
on his own judgment, if allowed such freedom — 
was inclined to oppose any subsequent interference 
or questioning that might be attempted, and especially 
resented it as a breach of faith if he had been 
promised a free hand, or otherwise led to expect 
exemption from such interference. 



Such were the matters that affected Browne's 
inclination as to the location of the work of his 
immediate future. He was too junior to carry weight 
and have influence with the authorities, but he was 
too thoughtful and too clear-headed not to have 
strong and decided views for his own guidance. 

It was at this period, when Browne was quitting 
the north-west frontier, that an incident occurred in 
the Peshawur region which had a very singular and 
amusing connection with Browne's career, but not 
till some fifteen years afterwards. This incident is the 
origin of the appearance of his double — and it began 
thus. An officer, of much the same age, appearance, 
and build as Browne, retired from the service about 
this time at Peshawur, and started on an independent 
and novel career of travel and adventure in Central and 
Western Asia — a career which will be described from 
time to time later on ; and the likeness between the two 
led, for a time, and with singular results, to their being 
regarded as one and the same person. In connection 
with this episode and before Browne quits the scene of 
his early labour and life, it may be well to refer 
again and more fully to his intercourse with the 
Ghilzyes and other local tribesmen, including of 
course the gentry and men of family and rank, and 
their religious leaders. It was with men of every 
class and grade that he came into such close contact, 
and of whom he obtained such intimate and valuable 
knowledge. The result was frequently actual friend- 
ship amounting to devotedness. Instead of bigoted 
hostility, he met with kindliness and respect. There 
was one fine old Mullah whose greeting to Browne 
always used to be " Huzrut Yeesoo Ka Salamut," 
which, being interpreted, is " The blessing of the 
Prophet Jesus be with you." For Browne, though 


thoroughly cognisant of the wild fanaticism of some 
of them, was a hearty admirer of the better sort, 
and used to say that he knew the hearts of many 
of them to be nearer the divine light than those of 
many Christians. As for Browne himself, as he grew 
in years, so did his early religious spirit and habits 
grow with him, but always as a matter private and 
personal and never obtruded on others. 

To return now to the actual course of Browne's 
career, after Umbeyla. At the usual season, towards 
March, 1864, he applied for and obtained a short 
furlough, and found his family in their former London 
residence. His experiences and the character he had 
now won doubtless secured for him a very exceptional 
holiday time — anyhow a honeymoon — as he took 
advantage of the opportunity to secure to himself a 
bride, the sister of Pierson, his brother officer and 
comrade. And as this was the bright particular event 
and feature of the trip, nothing further need be said 
of its occurrences, which were not otherwise in any 
way exceptional. As the summer drew to an end, 
Browne had secured the appointment to a post 
which would give him the opportunities that he 
desired for rest, quiet, and study. This was at 
Roorkee, in the North-west Provinces, the seat of the 
Engineer College ; and presently therefore the young 
couple left for India, and duly reached Roorkee in 
the early days of that delightful season — the cold 
weather — of 1864-5. 

When Browne reached Roorkee in the early 
winter of 1864, he experienced at once a period of 
great quiet and rest as compared with anything he 
had ever before enjoyed in India, though he was keen 
to begin taking advantage of the library and the 
other professional advantages the college afforded, 



And it was gratifying to him to find that his special 
aptitude and capacity were recognised by his being 
appointed to the chair of mathematics, and also 
assistant principal. While here settling to study his 
profession during the coming summer, it may be 
remarked that the social atmosphere of India at this 
time meant, in the upper provinces at any rate, a 
continuous ovation for John Lawrence. Before the 
summer set in he had assembled and met all the 
Punjab and hill chiefs in a great durbar at Lahore, 
accompanied by something like 60,000 armed clans- 
men ; and this was of course the chief incident of 
which the impression was felt at Roorkee. But, in 
fact, Sir John's difficulties had already begun. His 
flatterers had overshot the mark. The blunder of 
the Bhootan war had occurred, and he was somewhat 
at issue with his colleagues. A serious famine also 
and other causes of friction were to the front. 

But, in regard to the Brownes themselves, it was 
an advantage to the young bride to gain her first 
experiences of Indian society in a quiet but busy 
station, exceptionally free from frivolities, and likely 
to be friendly and helpful, being the headquarters 
of the Royal Engineers, the seat of the Engineer 
College, and the site of the capital, as it may be 
called, of the Great Ganges Canal. It was a pleasant 
introduction into the family life of the corps to which 
her husband belonged, before plunging into the 
rougher tracts and more isolated lines of life in which 
their future career would most probably be spent. 
Browne himself, besides enjoying the advantages 
already alluded to resulting from the college and its 
library, especially devoted his time to mastering the 
vexed question of the suitable conditions and the 
respective merits of the several systems of irrigation 


in India. To that work his employment might be 
at any time directed ; but, as it turned out, it was 
the one line of departmental duty on which he 
was never engaged. 

The several systems of irrigation were not really 
rival systems, as so frequently called; but each of 
them had a speciality of its own, resulting from local 
circumstances, permanent and unalterable. Thus in 
the North-west Provinces and the Punjab the flood- 
ing of the Himalayan rivers, caused by the melting 
of the mountain snows in summer, led to their excess 
supply on reaching the plains of Northern India, 
being there scientifically tapped and distributed by 
subsidiary branches from the main canals, chiefly at 
special seasons, but also so as to ensure a fairly 
equable supply being maintained throughout the rest 
of the year. In Madras and Bombay the river floods 
caused by the heavy rains, in the rainy seasons, were 
utilised by their surplus water being led off into 
enormous tanks (i.e. artificial lakes or reservoirs) and 
therein stored against the proper time for distribution. 
And in Scinde and similar desert tracts the passage of 
the Indus and other great rivers through them led 
to a system of surface irrigation channels, branching 
off from them right and left at as close intervals 
as possible, for the benefit of the lands immediately 
bordering the rivers. This supply, however, is not 
constant, but mainly autumnal and deltaic. 

It may be justly assumed that Browne did not 
neglect any of the opportunities afforded by Roorkee 
for effecting his great object of increasing his 
theoretical knowledge on points on which he had 
hitherto not had any practical experience. And it 
turned out before long, after less than a year of this 
quiet life, that he was to plunge again into a prolonged 


practical engineer career, which continued for twenty- 
two years, coloured occasionally by political work in 
addition, and twice by campaigning. 

From Roorkee he was transferred, towards the 
autumn of 1865, to Lahore, the capital of his old 
province (the Punjab). Here, where he had at first 
a short spell of local duty, the work he carried out 
was important and valuable, though brief ; it was the 
protection of the city against the erosive operation of 
the waters of the River Ravee. The stream there had 
a tendency to work to its left or eastern bank, and 
this Browne had to counteract ; which he did by a 
series of spurs and training works that guided the 
current of the river away into mid-channel and thus 
saved the bank which had been threatened. 

He was further employed on buildings and works 
at other stations lying in the neighbourhood of 
Lahore, if not belonging to that division, such as 
Umritsur and Sealkote. 

He was then at length posted to the Kangra 
Division in the near Himalayas, where, it will be seen, 
he remained for many years. It may be considered 
certain that he had been all along, while at Roorkee, 
preparing for this task by study. But now, when work- 
ing at Lahore, before starting for the Kangra Valley, 
he was enabled to make all the preliminary practical 
inquiries needed, and thus prepare properly for the 
great variety of work he would have to undertake; 
and also to investigate and consult regarding the 
economical utilisation of the local labour and materials 
to which he would be restricted. There the life that 
had to be led in the midst of the beautiful but wild 
and grand mountains, on the borders of ordinary civili- 
sation, was a rough one, but free from the anxieties 
of warfare or the presence of a fierce population. 



The principal work now before Browne was that 
of the Kangra Valley road. The object of the road, 
which was a purely Punjab scheme, was to open out 
the range of the Lower Himalayas for frontier com- 
merce generally, and for the local tea planting industry 
and enterprise in particular. That road followed 
the general run of the Sewalik Hills, covered or 
negotiated all otherwise impossible obstacles, and 
thus increased to a most valuable extent the com- 
mercial value and prosperity of the whole region. 
There was practically no level ground, or stretch of 
ground that could be made level, along its whole 
extent of 120 miles. The alignment was nearly as 
difficult as his later Hurnai Railway Line of 1883-7. 

But his main difficulty, or rather the matter in 
which his ingenuity most markedly came into pla} r , 
was the selection, in view to economy, of the modes 
of construction and methods of labour, the more so 
that there was no skilled labour on the spot ; the men, 
though not wild or fierce, were all uncultivated 
nomads from the interior mountains, and, as else- 
where, besides teaching and training them he turned 
them into devoted followers. 

The prominent facts of the work were : (1) that 
Browne had to be always encamped, rarely under 
house shelter, whatever the weather or the tempera- 
ture, and generally at a distance from any resources ; 
for these were to be found only at the terminus, 
Dharmsala, or Puthankote, still farther off, to which 
he could only occasionally take a short run ; (2) that 
the construction of the road occupied three years ; 
(3) that the process by which the road itself was 
formed was the continuous blasting out of precipitous 
cliff ; (4) that there was a succession of bridges 
at very short intervals over rivers and torrents ; and 



(5) that to build these bridges Browne had to use 
such materials, stone or brick, concrete or timber, as 
were most conveniently available. 

In the construction of the road, the men had to be 
slung by ropes from the tops of the cliffs till they 
could get a proper foothold from which to start their 
drivages inwards at the proper level, whence to carry 
out their blasts, tunnels, or terraces. Whenever it 
was known that a big blast was to come off, it was 
a real holiday for the hill people, who used to gather 
from all quarters to see the spectacle. On one occasion 
that he describes " the largest (blast) consisted of 
six charges of 1,850 pounds, which had to be fired off 
at the same moment. The great cliff stood up some 
200 feet like a wall of stone which nothing in the world 
could move — and it was very exciting to see the white 
smoke of the fuses creeping slowly up to the hose 
which would set off the mines. Then just a slight 
flash, and the enormous mass of rock seemed to 
collapse and crumble in a cloud of dust spreading 
out like a large tree against the sky, and with a 
rumbling muffled sound, as if the powder had had 
as much as it could do to lift the mass of rock on 
its back without wasting its energies in making a 
noise. Some of the mines again (and those the least 
successful), when they happened to meet a soft vein 
in the rock, or when he did not succeed in exactly 
calculating the proper charge, exploded with a tre- 
mendous roar, pouring out a torrent of stones in 
every direction which was much more imposing 
than useful and agreeable. But only two out of 
about thirty behaved in this fashion — and all was 
completed without any sort of accident to any one 
employed ! 

Of the numerous bridges that he had to build there, 


there were some that deserve special notice. There 
were two, at Buneyr and Nigul respectively, made 
of brickwork, of single spans of 140 feet, the largest 
ever constructed, by that time, either in India or 
anywhere else. There was one of concrete, at Daron, 
with a span of 48 feet, of which an illustration is 
given. And there was one at Dehra of timber, 214 
feet span, the largest in India. 

Referring to the Buneyr and Nigul bridges, the 
Punjab Government thus eulogised them : " They 
were constructed under very unfavourable circum- 
stances. They were Lieut. Browne's own design — 
and are worthy of all admiration." And it was 
ordered that a slab should he inserted in each of 
them, with the inscription : 

" Projected, designed, and erected b} T Lieut. J. 
Browne, R.E., Executive Engineer." 

The Governor wrote : 

" The boldness of design, and the vigorous readi- 
ness in overcoming local physical difficulties, in the 
absence of many usual resources, have combined with 
careful and accurate execution, which does the greatest 
credit to Lieut. Browne." 

The chief Engineer described them as " grand 
works," and reported that " careful examination had 
failed to bring to light any flaw in the arches or any 
cracks in the spandrils, walls, or parapets. They 
reflected great credit, and were a monument of con- 
structive skill." Further, the estimates were so care- 
fully prepared, and the work was so economically 
managed, that the cost was within the sanctioned 
amount. While these works, being exceptional in 
size and difficult}^, demanded much skill and in- 
genuity, no less credit attached to the careful selec- 
tion, with a view to economy, of suitable methods 


and material — rock, stone, brick, concrete, timber, or 
whatever was found available on or near the spot, 
after careful and laborious inquiry. Browne's system 
was very simple — "to spare himself no work, trouble, 
or pains." 

One of the features of the work on which he was 
specially complimented was his ingenuity and skill 
in that ticklish final operation, the removal of the 
centrings on which the arches had to be supported 
while being built. They, the centrings, rested on 
large cases in sections filled tight with sand, which, 
when the time arrived, was gently run out, under 
guidance, through holes drilled in the bottoms of the 
cases; thus allowing the surface to subside slowly 
until no longer needed as a support. 

These works gained for him the highest reputation 
as an Engineer — and a paper which he afterwards, 
in 1 87 1, read respecting them at the Civil Engineers' 
Institute in Westminster gained him the Telford 

It was in this charge that the first serious instance 
occurred of his exceptional readiness to assume grave 
responsibility and violate regulations where he held 
it to be necessary for the duties entrusted to him. 

A financial difficulty had arisen, caused by the 
unexpected withdrawal of funds at a critical time 
in the construction of some of the bridges, when, as 
the rains were coming on, the stoppage of work 
would have resulted in great loss. All entreaties to 
Government for funds having failed, he, on his own 
personal security, borrowed from a native of wealth a 
sum sufficient to carry on the work till out of the 
reach of danger ; repaying the advance later on when 
he received his new grants. This was done purely 
in the interests of Government, but it laid him open 


to a very severe censure, if not personal loss ; and 
it was not till some years after the event that he let 
out how he had obtained the money. Thus early in 
his career he showed his fearlessness of responsibility, 
provided he felt that he was acting in the interests 
of Government. 

In 1869, when the most important stage of the 
Kangra work was nearly over, he was much employed 
in the survey of the road from the plains to the new 
and neighbouring hill station of Dalhousie, and in 
preparing and arranging for the buildings needed 
there — work which he was to take up again after 
his return in 1873 from the furlough which he was 
shortly about to take. 

It may be observed that the people whom he had 
to employ — with whom he was brought intimately 
into contact — in the Kangra Valley and towards 
Dalhousie differed entirely from all with whom his 
former experiences lay. They were quiet, peaceable, 
and kindly hill folk — chiefly Buddhist in religious per- 
suasion — with many hill Rajpoot tribes among them, 
and sprinklings of Mussulmans from the Lower 
Himalayas, here quite different from the fiercer 
fanatics on the Indus. The quiet and peace and 
security were important on account of his bride 
and young family, and formed, by contrast, a break 
and a stepping-stone to the rougher associations of 
later years. 

Meanwhile, too, the career of his " Double" was 
proceeding, but it will be more convenient to defer 
dealing with it to a somewhat more advanced 

While Browne was thus carrying on his work 
between 1865 and 1870 on the north-east frontier of the 
Punjab, outer events in which the fate of India was 



involved had not been standing idle. Russia had 
not as yet been making overt movements or pushing 
her advances towards our borders, or even towards 
Afghanistan, but she had been very active in the 
more northerly districts, and on our part there had 
been somewhat ostentatious movements towards the 
Yarkund direction, while our real attention and watch 
had to be directed towards Kaufmann, the Governor- 
General of Turkestan. 

In Afghanistan Shere Ali had been, by degrees, 
fighting his way through the large family of rival 
brothers, and was now, after five years, coming more 
clearly to the front as the Ameer of the country ; though 
Sir John Lawrence was doggedly adhering to his 
avowed policy of " Masterly Inactivity." Further, we 
had ourselves a war on in Abyssinia, in which for- 
tunately our commander was that wise statesman and 
determined leader, Sir Robert Napier, who, carrying 
out his own plans, in spite of all opposition and 
obstacles, won his decisive and thorough victory just 
in time to anticipate the rains and so avoid a pro- 
longed war. The great flare-up was also beginning 
in Europe ; Prussia had already fought Denmark and 
was at war with Austria, and France and. Prussia 
were beginning to snarl. Such was the state of 
matters when Browne obtained his first furlough and 
went to England. 

Still these recent years were, it may be assumed, 
the most quiet, pleasant, and untroubled of Browne's 
career, spent in a fine climate, under the very appre- 
ciative Government of the Punjab, and free from the 
anxieties of war; the only serious wars that had 
been going on being on the Continent of Europe and 
the Abyssinian war. The troubles' in Afghanistan 
in respect of the strife between Dost Mahomed's sons 


had now ceased and Shere Ali had become the 
recognised Ameer of Cabul. 

Sir John Lawrence, in pursuance of the policy of 
recognising and befriending the de facto ruler, had 
deemed it wise that the British Government should 
acknowledge, in a public manner, the change which 
had thus taken place. He therefore intimated that 
he would grant to the Ameer a State interview or 
durbar, and that he would befriend him, in the 
consolidation of his power, with a present of money. 
But Sir John quitted the viceroyalty in January, 
1869, and it fell to his successor, Lord Mayo, to carry 
out these promises. This he did at the Umballa 
durbar in March, 1869. The effect of that durbar 
was to give to our policy of a definite basis for our 
dealings with Afghanistan its legitimate development. 
So long as the claimants to the Afghan sovereignty 
were fighting among themselves, that policy debarred 
us from interfering. But when one of them had finally 
emerged triumphant, and concentrated the authority 
in his own hands, the same policy led Lawrence 
and Mayo to strengthen him in that position. 
During the first five years after this Umballa durbar 
events proved that they had accurately gauged 
the situation. The successful claimant, Shere Ali, 
whom that durbar publicly recognised, continued 
to maintain his authority and to reign as the rightful 
ruler of Afghanistan. This was a happy juncture 
for Browne to take his well-earned holiday. The 
public outlook was settled and peaceful, and Browne 
recognised or foresaw, as few did, that there would 
soon be a real and vigorous start of important 
Engineer operations, under the direct control of the 
Government. With the exception of canals, none 
such had heretofore, to any serious extent, fallen to 


the lot of the Government Engineer. And he had 
now a good opportunity of such further study and 
inquisition into Engineer work as he might think 
needful for this new era, as well as of taking a real 

He had now had ten full years of sound practical 
experience, nearly all of it in Engineer works that were 
in many respects most valuable for his future career, 
and a few months of it in rough soldiering that had 
drawn out and developed his character and capacity 
in an exceptional manner, as well as giving him the 
most valuable sort of experience he could have 




IN the last chapter we left Browne closing his 
work in the north of the Punjab — and, more 
than this, closing with it his employment in 
the ordinary work in the Engineer Department of 

Henceforward, as he had now made his mark as 
a brilliant practical Engineer and indomitable public 
servant, and as Lord Mayo had been starting a 
widespread policy for Public Works, Browne felt 
that he was certain to be employed in higher-class 
engineering, and wisely resolved to prepare himself 
thoroughly for it, and for this object to go on 
furlough and study the great undertakings of Europe 
and America. 

As a preliminary to Browne's own proceedings to 
that end, it is expedient to describe first what Lord 
Mayo had begun to do, premising that, before he 
made his start, there had been a very scandalous 
succession of failures in the work of the Engineer 
Department of the State. 

Lord Mayo's rule of India was, as regards its 
earlier part, contemporaneous with Browne's charge 
of the Kangra Valley road, and after it, with his 




absence on furlough. During the Kangra Valley 
episode he was so fully absorbed with it, and in 
such a comparatively isolated locality, that he took 
less heed than usual of what was going on elsewhere, 
and during his holiday he had other matters to think 
of. Hence Lord Mayo's sway in India has been, 
as yet, but barely alluded to in these pages. But, 
as a matter of fact, it overflowed with acts and 
arrangements of the deepest moment, greatly affecting 
and influencing Browne's subsequent career ; and 
Lord Mayo's measures and proceedings, covering so 
wide a range as they did and emanating so much 
from his own personal insight, will be now briefly 

His first great measure was to start a wide expansion 
of railways and other works needed for the material 
development of the country, for the proper treatment 
of the needs of the British troops, and for the com- 
munications and defensive preparations required on 
the north-west frontier and on the neutral ground 
between India and Afghanistan. 

Next, as his assumption of the viceroyalty had 
been coincident in time with the settlement of the 
troubles in Afghanistan and the assumption of its 
rule by Shere Ali, henceforth the Ameer, he invited 
him to a durbar to be held in his house and in 
recognition of his sovereignty. The Viceroy's regal 
bearing and the heartiness of his demeanour won the 
Ameer's heart and led to his continuing in the very 
best relations with England during all Lord Mayo's 
viceroyalty, in spite of the failure of some of his 
own aspirations. 

It may be here remarked that although Russia had 
not yet begun to show her teeth, experts who had 
been watching her knew that her movements in our 


direction had begun. She had, ostensibly, been 
wholly taken up with the northern part of Central 
Asia, but latterly on trying to move southwards 
had found the region impracticable, and had conse- 
quently now started on another line of advance 
towards Afghanistan, from the south of the Caspian, 
through the Turkoman country towards Merv and 
Herat. Also a new departure, a clear development 
of its policy and indication of its permanent aims and 
intentions had been given by the appointment of 
Kaufmann to the new and high position of Governor- 
General of Turkestan; though some time was still 
to elapse before he began to attract serious attention. 

Referring back, however, to Shere Ali, it is expedient 
to show more fully what he had been doing and what 
Lord Mayo's policy and attitude towards him had 
been. When Shere Ali had visited India to see the 
Viceroy, he came with five distinct objects in view. 
He desired, in the first place, a treaty; next, he 
hoped for a fixed annual subsidy ; and thirdly, for 
assistance in arms or in men, to be given " not when 
the British Government might think fit to grant, but 
when he might think it needful to solicit it " ; in the 
fourth place, for a well-defined engagement, "laying 
the British Government under an obligation to support 
the Afghan Government in any emergency; and not 
only that Government generally, but that Government 
as vested in himself and his direct descendants, and 
in no others." Finally he cherished a desire that 
he might obtain some constructive act of recognition 
by the British Government in favour of his younger 
son, Abdulla Jan, whom he brought with him, and 
whom he wished to make his heir to the exclusion of 
his elder son, Yakoob Khan, who had helped him to 
win the throne. 


But in not one of these objects was the Ameer 
successful. The first four were distinctly negatived ; 
the fifth did not enter into the discussions. Lord Mayo 
adhered to a programme which he had deliberately put 
in writing before he left Calcutta. Yet, by tact and 
by conciliatory firmness, he sent the Ameer away 
satisfied, and deeply impressed with the advantage 
of being on good terms with the British Power. 

Lord Mayo's foreign policy was this : " Surround 
India," he wrote shortly after the Umballa durbar, 
"with strong, friendly, and independent states, who 
will have more interest in keeping well with us than 
with any other Power, and we are safe." " Our in- 
fluence," he says in another letter, " has been con- 
siderably strengthened, both in our own territories 
and also in the states of Central Asia, by the 
Umballa meeting; and if we can only persuade 
people that our policy really is non-intervention 
and peace, that England is at this moment the only 
non-aggressive Power in Asia, we should stand on 
a pinnacle of power that we have never enjoyed 

To go farther afield than Afghanistan, Lord Mayo 
hoped to open conciliatory relations with Russia by 
honestly explaining the real nature of the change 
which had taken place. He accepted Russia's splendid 
vitality in Central Asia as a fact neither to be shirked 
nor condemned, but as one which, by vigilant firm- 
ness, might be rendered harmless to ourselves. But 
he thought it might be advantageous that an unofficial 
interchange of views should take place between the 
high officers connected with the actual administration 
of Asiatic affairs. He did not, apparently, know — at 
any rate, he did not accept or act on — Lord Palmerston's 
view of Russia's ways. 


He carried out his views, and in strict accordance 
with customary Russian diplomac}', appeared to 
succeed ; the result being the formal acceptance of 
his theory that the best security for peace in Central 
Asia consisted in maintaining the great states on 
the Indian frontier in a position of effective inde- 
pendence. Unfortunately it was not an adequate 
security of itself. Efforts were also made to prevent 
the recurrence of those unauthorised aggressions by 
Russian frontier officers which had kept Central Asia 
in perpetual turmoil. Of these efforts it may be 
briefly said that they were successful, but only for 
the moment — i.e. during the term of Lord Mayo's 

It was now agreed that Russia should respect — as 
Afghanistan — all the provinces which Shere Ali then 
held, that the Oxus should be the boundary line of 
Shere Ali's dominions on the north, and that both 
England and Russia should do their best to prevent 
aggressions by the Asiatic states under their control. 
Lord Mayo lost no time in securing for Shere Ali 
the guarantee of a recognised boundary against the 
Ameer's neighbours in Central Asia. In 1871 the 
Russians, however, raised grave objections to Badak- 
shan being included within the Afghan line. This 
question was settled by friendly negotiations in 1872. 
In January, 1873, Count Shouvaloff arrived in London 
to express personally the Emperor's sanction to the 
disputed territories being recognised as part of 
Afghanistan. Subsequent delimitations have given 
precision to the frontier. But practically it may be 
said that Afghanistan, as territorially defined by Lord 
Mayo in 1869, remained substantially the Afghanistan 
of the following twenty years. But what did that 
mere fact matter to its rulers, if its real independence 



and safety were being all along undermined by in- 
sidious aggressions ? A formal settlement of that 
boundary or frontier was made in 1873, the particulars 
being as follows. 

The territories and boundaries which Her Majesty's 
Government considered as fully belonging to the 
Ameer of Cabul were stated thus : 

" (1) Badakshan, with its dependent district of Wak- 
han, from the Sir-i-kul (Woods Lake) on the east 
to the junction of the Kokcha River, with the Oxus 
(Panjah) forming the northern boundary of this 
Afghan province throughout its entire extent. 

" (2) Afghan Turkestan, comprising the districts of 
Kunduz Khulm and Balkh, the northern boundary 
of which would be the line of the Oxus, from the 
junction of the Kokcha River to the post of the Khoja- 
Sale inclusive, on the high road from Bokhara to 
Balkh— nothing to be claimed by the Afghan Ameer 
on the left bank of the Oxus below Khoja-Sale. 

" (3) The internal districts of Akcha, Siripul, Maimana, 
Shiberghan, and Andkui, the latter of which would 
be the extreme Afghan frontier possession to the 
north-west, the desert beyond belonging to inde- 
pendent tribes of Turcomans. 

M (4) The Western Afghan frontier between the 
dependencies of Herat and those of the Persian pro- 
vince of Khorassan is well known, and need not here 
be defined." 

Therefore, on January 31st, 1873, Prince Gortchakoff 
definitely announced the Czar's acceptance of the 
northern frontier of Afghanistan, as defined by the 
British Cabinet, and thereby formally agreed to a 
limitary line which neither England nor Russia should 
cross. As this final settlement — so arrived at — 
constitutes one of the most important agreements 
between the two Powers concerning Central Asian 
affairs, and as it is the keystone of the present political 
situation, the Russian Chancellor's letter is given in 


extenso. It was addressed to Baron Brunnow, by 
whom it was communicated to Earl Granville on 
February 5th, 1873, and was as follows: 

" We see with satisfaction that the English Cabinet 
continues to pursue in those parts the same object 
as ourselves, that of ensuring to them peace, and, as 
far as possible, tranquillity. 

" The divergence which existed in our views was 
with regard to the frontiers assigned to the dominions 
of Shere Ali. 

" The English Cabinet includes within them Badak- 
shan and Wakhan, which, according to our views, 
enjoyed a certain independence. Considering the 
difficulty experienced in establishing the facts in 
all their details in those distant parts, considering 
the greater facilities which the British Government 
possesses for collecting precise data, and, above all, 
considering our wish not to give to this question 
of detail greater importance than is due to it, we do 
not refuse to accept the line of boundary laid down 
by England. 

" We are the more inclined to this act of courtesy 
as the English Government engages to use all her 
influence with Shere Ali in order to induce him to 
maintain a peaceful attitude, as well as to insist on 
his giving up all measures of aggression or further 
conquest. This influence is indisputable. It is based 
not only on the material and moral ascendency of 
England, but also on the subsidies for which Shere 
Ali is indebted to her. Such being the case, we see 
in this assurance a real guarantee for the maintenance 
of peace." 

But, to turn to another direction, the Russian 
annexation of Samarkand and the Zarafshan Valley 
created considerable excitement in England ; con- 
sequently Lord Clarendon, the British Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, felt that something had to be done 
to allay the uneasiness of the British and Indian 
public. With this object he recommended " the 
recognition of some territory as neutral between the 



possessions of England and Russia, which should 
be the limit of those possessions, and be scrupulously 
respected by both the Powers." 

Prince Gortchakoff sent an answer to the proposals 
of the British Foreign Minister, in which, after ex- 
pressing his satisfaction at the friendly sentiments 
of the English Government, and after referring with 
true diplomatic insincerity to the " profound wisdom " 
of Lord Lawrence's policy of " masterly inactivity," 
he gave "the positive assurance " that " His Imperial 
Majesty looks upon Afghanistan as completely out- 
side the sphere within which Russia may be called 
upon to exercise her influence." 

Further, before his death, Lord Mayo had laid 
the foundation of another great feature in the con- 
solidation of British rule on the frontier, a feature 
which very shortly came closely under Browne's own 
ken, the pacification and settlement of the Beloochistan 
territory. He laid the foundations of this politic 
measure ; but, owing to matters which will be duly 
noted, it was not effected till later days. But this 
subject is here mentioned because, though Browne 
was not cognisant of these or other contemporaneous 
matters during his furlough, he was very soon to 
be brought into close contact with them. 

These will therefore be more fully dealt with in 
the special Beloochistan chapter, but the point that 
may be here specially referred to is the fact of the 
comparative muddle that had already arisen there 
owing (1) to the departure of Sir Henry Green, who 
had ruled that district so long and successfully after 
it had lost John Jacob ; (2) the squabbles and inter- 
ference with the old Bombay authorities, on the part 
of Captain Sandeman and the Punjab officials, who, 
now that the Indus Valley Railway was in pro- 



gress, affected to claim a voice in the supervision 
of the district, and were at issue with Merewether, 
Jacob's successor, on the Scinde frontier ; and (3) the 
aggressive aims, against the other Belooch chiefs, 
of the Khan of Khelat, the primus inter pares of that 



187 1-6 


1 I 7ITH such a position and outlook in India 

as has been described, Browne proceeded 

on furlough while Lord Mayo was Viceroy, 
and arrived in London early in 187 1. His father had 
died in 1870, the family home was broken up, and 
he was free to spend much of his time in travel, 
and he spent it accordingly — and further, in accordance 
with his tastes and proclivities, in that sort of travel 
in which he could combine amusement and enjoyment 
of life with the study of practical engineering, both 
civil and military. For the Franco-German war was 
in full swing, and the battlefields and scenes and 
episodes of the wars which Prussia had been waging 
with Denmark and Austria were still only a matter 
of yesterday. 

So, after a spell of London and England, he spent 
most of his first year of furlough in Europe ; and then, 
when his military studies were over, he concentrated 
his attention on the engineering of Holland and 
Belgium : its dykes and dams ; its warfare against 



the action and encroachment of the sea ; its reclama- 
tions ; its protective and regulative works ; its mines, 
factories, and bridges ; its machinery and railways. 
All these specialities, combined with the local interests 
resulting from his own partially Dutch descent, made 
this an especially pleasant experience. 

This study in Europe was hardly over when the 
intelligence he received from India led him to recog- 
nise that the new activity in the Public Works of 
India, under Lord Mayo, was not a mere flash in 
the pan, but the beginning of a genuine and wide- 
spread development. So he continued his study of 
engineering, but transferred it to the even more 
appropriate field of America. For Lord Mayo had 
started, as shown in the last chapter, not only a 
vigorous expansion of work, but at the same time 
a wisely economical as well as progressive policy ; 
and Browne's inquiry led to the conclusion that in 
America he would most readily find and be able to 
study the class of enterprise needed for India. 

The railway work carried out in India had as yet 
been of the stereotyped massive broad gauge style 
of the Guaranteed Railways ; and their engineers, 
when referred to by Lord Mayo, had refused to 
depart from it and adopt any lighter style, such as a 
narrow gauge, or at any smaller cost — i.e. anything 
much under £20,000 a mile ; while Lord Mayo aimed 
at £8,000 to £10,000. He was now consequently 
organising arrangements for the construction of these 
railways through the agency of his own Engineer 
officers. Hence Browne's determination to study the 
American works on the spot, and to this study he 
devoted the second year of his furlough. 

He was already, to start with, an expert mathe- 
matician, both theoretical and practical, and much 




[To face p. 116. 


given to professional correspondence and controversy 
on the subject; and in America he studied the local 
systems thoroughly, working out the calculations for 
the component parts of the structures, and discussing 
them with the American engineers and mathematical 

The fulness of his study in America may be gathered 
from the variety of the works and places he visited, 
such as New York and Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Cin- 
cinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Omaha, Nebraska, Utah, 
San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal. All this involved 
hard and tough work and considerable vigour and 
gymnastic skill ; for he was thorough, and went climb- 
ing about the girders and structures, and probing into 
details, so as to acquire direct personal knowledge 
of them. Browne was specially pleased with the 
helpful readiness and friendliness he found there, 
the outcome probably, in a measure at any rate, of 
the determined good-will and unison betokened by 
Lord Ripon's far-seeing award in the Alabama case. 

On going back from America to England, Browne 
had to prepare for his return to India, where he 
would take with him the vast store of professional 
knowledge and information he had acquired, of which 
the intelligence had preceded him. 

On rejoining in India, he found himself reposted 
to Dalhousie, which was now constituted a Division, 
but which had formerly been only a subdivision of 
his Kangra Valley charge ; and he soon realised how 
work had been expanding in India, of which the 
accounts he had heard while absent were far short of 
the reality. 

This Dalhousie charge, though he held it for 
only a brief period, was useful in giving him the 
needful insight into the present state of public 

n8 THE SUKKUR BRIDGE: 1 871-6 

affairs, before joining in more important operations. 
To this Division, then, Browne found himself now 
nominally appointed towards the end of 1873. The 
word " nominally " is used advisedly, for though, as will 
be seen, he carried out the duties and furthered the 
works of the charge as heartily as any man could have 
done, it was virtually only a temporary post, pending 
arrangements for the special employment for which 
he was destined and on which his studies in America 
could be more specifically utilised. 

But even while employed in this Dalhousie Division, 
he was further assigned some of the special work of 
designing iron bridges, and that not even for his 
own Government, the Punjab, but for the North-west 
Provinces. Among these, of which some had spans 
of 200 and 300 feet, one was specially notable — a 
suspension bridge across the Jumna at Khalsi, the 
largest in India, with a centre span of 260 feet and 
two others of 140 feet each. He prepared not only 
the general designs and estimates, but also the work- 
ing drawings for guidance in the erection. On these 
designs they were constructed, not b}' himself, but 
by the local engineers — and they stood, with complete 
success, the severe tests to which, in view of the 
novelty of some of the designs, they are said to have 
been subjected. 

To turn now from these exceptional and additional 
tasks to his normal duties at Dalhousie. Browne, it 
will be remembered, was not undertaking a charge to 
which he was new — as he had designed and estimated 
the road to it from the plains, and worked there 
in 1870 and earlier; but since then the station — like 
other hill stations — had been progressing under the 
policy and support of Lord Mayo and Lord Napier. 
Double-storied barracks and cognate buildings were 


under construction, and road work was in full swing. 
One noticeable feature in the arrangements was that 
much of the work, especially the latter — the road 
work — was executed by the troops there, of whom 
some 2,000 were at his disposal. He not only guided 
and controlled them in the work, but also, with the 
concurrence and support of their own regimental 
officers, improvised or aided in the arrangements for 
their hutting and comforts, their food and their move- 
ments. The insight into such matters which he here 
acquired was of much value to him afterwards in the 
similar but more arduous case of the Hurnai road. 
From all the quarters and authorities with whom 
these duties brought him into contact he received the 
highest commendation, especially from the military 
authorities at Lahore, who expressed themselves most 
warmly as to the speedy construction of the buildings 
and the management of the troops on the road work. 

Besides these works for the troops Browne was 
assigned the, to him, perfectly novel task of design- 
ing and carrying out the water supply. For this the 
only precedent he could obtain for guidance was 
that of Calcutta ; but it was more a theoretical than 
a practical precedent, for the circumstances and 
conditions at Dalhousie were so wholly different. In 
the one case, there were level plains, a huge river 
with a permanent supply, and all the machinery and 
structural appliances that were needed immediately 
available ; in the other there was mountainous ground, 
and streams varying from almost dry watercourses to 
rushing torrents, with a head of water of nigh 500 
feet, to contend against. Still, with his wonted care 
and practical bent, he carried out this task with 
entire success. 

But now the time had arrived for the further 

120 THE SUKKUR BRIDGE: 1871-6 

special employment on which he was to be engaged. 
Mr. (now Sir) Guilford Molesworth, the Government 
Consulting Engineer for Railways, was ready to have 
the surveys begun for the designing of the railway 
bridge over the Indus at Sukkur. Browne, being 
selected for the task, now proceeded to join him at 
his office at Simla, where he received full instructions, 
and made all the arrangements needed, including 
the preliminary surveys, borings, and other investi- 

Besides the point that the site of the bridge was 
famed in ancient history, the leading fact, for the 
time, was that railways were already under con- 
struction along the banks of the Indus — one on the 
left bank from the Punjab down to Sukkur, the other 
on the right bank from Kurrachee up to Sukkur ; 
and this proposed bridge was wanted to connect the 
two lines properly, as well as for other purposes. 

The prominent site for the crossing is at the 
Island of Bukkur, a rock lying mid-channel between 
the city of Sukkur on the right bank, and the 
town of Rohri on the left, and Browne, of course, 
surveyed this position thoroughly ; but, not content 
with this, he surveyed and explored fully all other 
possible passages. Then, when he had finished these 
inquiries completely, so much so as to have formed 
his own conclusions as to the proper sites for the 
bridge — or rather bridges — he returned to Simla to 
lay the surveys and results before Mr. Molesworth, 
and work up the designs, in his office, on such st} 7 le 
or principle as might then be decided on. 

It may be at once explained that the idea of any 
other passage than by the Island of Bukkur was soon 
set aside, and the general tenor of the arrangement 
was (1) a bridge across the comparatively narrow 


channel between Sukkur and the Island of Bukkur, 
(2) a railway line across that island, and (3) a large 
single-span bridge from the island to the bank at 
Rohri. This span would be from 850 to 880 feet 
according to the precise spot selected. About the 
bridge over the narrow channel there was little 
question, as there were good sites for piers; but the 
large single-span bridge would constitute the difficulty 
of the undertaking. 

Having completed the surveys, Browne returned 
to Simla, and placed the whole matter before Mr. 
Molesworth, who was much satisfied with the thor- 
oughness of Browne's investigations, and the good 
judgment of his conclusions. Having considered and 
discussed the matter fully, Mr. Molesworth, while 
holding other alternatives in view, set Browne to 
the preparation of a design, on the principle known 
as " stiffened suspension," at the site at which the 
present bridge was eventually erected. 

Browne duly set to work, prepared the detailed 
designs, and worked out the calculations for the 
component parts, in a manner which elicited the 
highest encomiums from Sir Alexander Rendel, the 
Consulting Engineer to the India Office, and the other 
authorities concerned. They gave him special credit 
for " the skill and ingenuity with which he had applied 
the suspension principle, and the completeness and 
admirable finish of the designs and drawings." 

As will be presently seen, the design was never 
carried out, but the final official notice of it ran thus : 

" In relieving Major Browne, it is only just to him 
to acknowledge the value of his services in the 
preparations of the bridge designs; an inspection of 
them will show how very voluminous and elaborate 
they are. The calculations have entailed enormous 

122 THE SUKKUR BRIDGE: 1 871-6 

labour. Major Browne has not been satisfied with 
the calculations generally required for such works, 
but has investigated every principal condition in the 
most perfect manner. I cannot speak too highly of the 
ability he has shown, both in his mathematical investi- 
gations and in his practical suggestions in carrying 
out the details of this important structure ; and in 
doing so he has shown himself possessed of a rare 
combination of theoretical skill and practical talent." 

When the design had been finished and the esti- 
mates for its cost were worked out, the amount 
involved was found to be so serious that Mr. Moles- 
worth thought it proper to set it aside, while 
considering other schemes. One alternative design 
was for a bridge altogether avoiding and below the 
Bukkur Island, with a number of short spans and 
steel c}dinders ; but the results of borings led to this 
idea being abandoned. His next scheme was that 
of a steel arch, which would have been less costly 
than the " stiffened suspension " plan, and which 
some competent judges think would have been the 
best after all. It was duly sent to England for con- 
sideration. It included a roadwa}^, and in England 
objection was raised to this, though without it the 
bridge would not have been sufficiently stiff. 

But at this crisis — i.e. while they were disputing 
about it — the cantilever system or principle had just 
been invented and brought forward — a perfectly novel 
idea, which caught the fancy generally ; and it was 
forthwith adopted (in 1875) and eventually carried out, 
but not till after fourteen years of steady hard work. 
The bridge was completed, and formally opened by 
Lord Reay on February 9th, 1889. 

Browne, however, was, as a matter of course, not 
well pleased with the summary stoppage of his 
designs, even on the assumed superiority of the other 


principle ; but it was not till December 9th, 1882, that 
he gave expression to this feeling, in writing to 
Government regarding their superseding by the canti- 
lever system, on an assumed superiority of theoretical 
principle, the suspension system which they had 
originally prescribed and which he had worked out. 
He wrote thus : 

" The East River Railway Suspension Bridge 
at New York, with a span of 1,000 feet, is just 
approaching completion. It is described in the 
New York Christian Weekly newspaper of December 
13th, 1873, and I saw all the wire for it being made 
in 1876. This bridge cannot for a moment be com- 
pared as to strength and steadiness to the bridge 
for the Indus which I propose. The fact of its 
erection shows that the Americans at least have not 
abandoned the suspension principle." 

Before quitting the subject of the Sukkur Bridge, it 
may be noted that when Browne first appeared there 
the place was almost at the limits of civilisation — at 
" where three empires meet," it may be said, at 
the junction of the wilds of Scinde, of Beloochistan, 
and of the Punjab deserts — where every one was apt 
to think himself his own master and superior to all 
others. The less his real authority and position 
might be, the greater generally was his assumption. 
Thereby hangs a tale. 

A snag of a large tree, which was lying on the 
bank at Rohri, was interfering with Browne's work, 
and while talking casually on the spot to one of the 
gentry referred to, who may here be called Q., he 
remarked that he meant for that reason to throw it 
into the river. " Oh no," says his friend, " / won't 
let you do that. It would obstruct the navigation." 
After a little chaff Browne was formally and angrily 
forbidden, and warned against carrying out his 

i2 4 THE SUKKUR BRIDGE: 1871-6 

threat. Now Browne had a large steam launch there, 
so in the night he carried the snag on board and 
took it across to Bukkur, the island, and there landed 
it. His friend Q., on missing it next day, jumped 
to the conclusion that Browne had thrown it into the 
river in defiance of his warning, and forthwith handed 
the matter up to the Collector ; and a long and very 
roundabout correspondence ensued, for Browne and 
Q. were under two different Governments — Scinde and 
India. Presently Browne carried the snag back to 
its former site, and in course of time was called on 
to explain his action. His answer was very simple — 
" The snag is where it was, and has never been thrown 
into the river." The huge piles of correspondence, 
red tape, and circumlocution, ending with the sharp rap 
over the knuckles to Q., need not be described. 

Lord Mayo had been assassinated during Browne's 
furlough, and he had been eventually succeeded by 
Lord Northbrook, an administrator of liberal principles 
and strong practical sense, which left its impress 
on his Indian administration. The first prominent 
public event during his viceroyalty was a famine 
which broke out in Behar in 1874; and to Lord 
Northbrook belongs the credit of having, for the 
first time in the history of British India, succeeded 
completely in relieving distress and preventing deaths 
in an Indian famine. After the famine was over, the 
Prince of Wales visited India in 1875-6, and the 
outburst of loyalty which the visit evoked from all 
sections of the people in all parts of India forms 
one of the most memorable events of modern Indian 

A good deal of not altogether unreasonable anxiety 
was expressed as to the Prince's safety. Lord Mayo's 
assassination was then fresh in people's memory, 


and it was not the sole instance during late years of 
a high official being murdered. Religious fanatics are 
common in India, and with every precaution there 
still remained an appreciable amount of risk. This 
risk lay chiefly in the semi-madness of isolated 
individual fanatics, and very little, it would seem, 
in the action of emissaries of secret sects — such as 
those called Wahabees, though not off-shoots of the 
real Wahabees of the Red Sea or Arabia. 

These sects occupy, among the Sunis or Turkish 
Moslems, much the same position as the Kojahs and 
other disciples of the " Old Man of the Mountain" 
occupy among the Shias or Persian Moslems. They 
are held by the learned and orthodox to be dangerous 
and fanatical heretics, but they are dreaded and 
courted by all classes. They are the natural vent 
for the undying fanaticism of Islam, requiring at all 
times to be watched, and in troubled times becoming 
a political force of much importance. Their head- 
quarters in India are at Patna, whence they feed 
colonies, as at Sitana, on the " Black Mountain " 
beyond the Indus, which we destroyed in 1863. 1 
Mr. Taylor was commissioner at Patna in 1857, and, 
having learnt much of their secret intrigues, arrested 
their leader, and so saved Patna from an outbreak. 
There could be no doubt that very special precautions 
were still needed against the agents of these fanatics, 
but no one was better able to meet the danger 
without fuss or worry than Major Bradford, 2 who 
had been selected to be in constant attendance on 
His Royal Highness, and never to leave him while 
he stayed in India. 

While all this was going on Browne had been 

1 Vide page 82. 

* Afterwards Sir Edward Bradford, Head of the Police of London, 

126 THE SUKKUR BRIDGE: 1871-6 

engaged at Simla on his designs in connection with 
the Sukkur Bridge, working in Mr. Molesworth's 
office — and was, of course, fully conversant there 
with the course of general events, both in India and 
on the frontier, as well as beyond it. 

In regard to this, Lord Northbrook had entirely 
set aside Lord Mayo's policy, and reverted to that of 
Lord Lawrence, yclept Masterly Inactivity. It was a 
singular fact, it may be remarked, that there was 
no continuous policy in India during Browne's career 
there. Lawrence was the prototype of his own policy 
of Inactivity. Then came Mayo, who held out his 
hand to Russia and supported Shere Ali warmly : 
now we have Lord Northbrook going back to In- 
activity, to be followed, it will be seen, by Lytton, 
a thorough progressive ; he in his turn by Lord 
Ripon, another reactionary. 

So Lord Northbrook, having adopted the Lawrence 
policy, refused to continue to the Ameer the practical 
countenance and support which Lord Mayo had given 
him. And he did this in face of the fact that the 
Ameer was now beginning to feel urgently, and to 
show vehemently that he so felt, the necessity for 
that support against the insidious advances and pro- 
posals of Kaufmann, the aggressive Russian Governor- 
General of Turkestan. For Kaufmann had now 
adopted a new route for his active operations and 
subsequent advance. The immediately previous route 
had, as referred to in the last chapter, been a failure ; 
lying eastwards from Krasnovodsk on the eastern 
shore of the Caspian, it became lost in hopeless desert, 
and his new direction started from the same point 
on the Caspian, but ran more southerly by Kizil 
Arvat and along the borders of Persia towards Herat. 
And he was now, in the Russian manner, playing 


his own independent game with Afghanistan, perfectly 
regardless of, and at variance with, the diplomatic 
action going on in higher quarters — i.e. between the 
courts of Russia and of England. 

Lord Northbrook was carrying out, in its most 
complete form, the policy of Masterly Inactivity, or 
drift, not only in regard to the north-west frontier — 
i.e. towards Afghanistan and Russia, but also towards 
Beloochistan, which was now in a somewhat scandalous 
state of confusion. All the Beloochees were at feud, 
the minor clans among themselves, and they col- 
lectively with the head of the confederacy, the primus 
inter pares, the Khan of Khelat, a chief with whom 
Browne was to be much in contact. And further, 
the various English authorities, Merewether, Phayre, 
Sandeman, and others, were much at variance, having 
lost the strong guiding hand of Sir Henry Green. 

But now, in 1874, Mr. Disraeli had become Prime 
Minister, and a change had come over the spirit of 
England's policy towards Afghanistan, which had 
reverted to that of Lord Mayo. The policy of 
maintaining that country as a strong, independent, 
but friendly state, had been accepted by the suc- 
cessive Viceroys, but carried out by differing methods. 
But a still more advanced policy than Lord Mayo's 
was now mooted — viz. that English agents should 
be established in the heart of Afghanistan in order 
to support and guide that power more effectually. 
Lord Salisbury, now Secretary of State for India, 
had sent a dispatch embodying the new policy in 
January, 1875. Lord Northbrook, strong in the 
strength of his own convictions, remonstrated. In 
the following year, having again differed from the 
Secretary of State — this time on the financial policy 
of India — he received a censure, and forthwith resigned. 

128 THE SUKKUR BRIDGE: 1871-6 

But Lord Northbrook's rule cannot be justly de- 
scribed without referring to one special incident in 
it, the subject being one in which Browne's personal 
interest was particularly strong, though it has no 
direct connection with his career. The last chapter of 
the history of the negro slave-trade was, at the time, 
generally thought to be completed by the result of the 
American Civil War and the collapse of slavery in 
the United States. The European Powers had long 
been united, with greater or less sincerity and zeal, 
in seeking to effect its abolition. In the analogous 
case of white slavery in Russia, the Emperor 
Alexander had already freed the Serfs in 1861, and 
paid the penalt}^ for it by being dynamited. Hence 
the adhesion of the United States, whose attitude had 
hitherto been doubtful, gave a unanimity of support 
to its prohibition, which the Powers were now strong 
enough, if they had the will, to impose upon the 
whole world. 

The occasion was not long wanting. It became 
known that the slaves, who had been kidnapped 
under circumstances of horrible atrocity in the in- 
terior of Africa, were being exported in large and 
yearly increasing numbers from Zanzibar, Kilwa, and 
other places on the east coast, to the ports of the 
Red Sea and Persian Gulf. The dhows in which 
they were shipped, running with their lateen sails 
spread before the south-west monsoon, could distance 
any steamer then on the coast. The English squadron, 
inadequate in numbers and equipment for the special 
service, and without the means of obtaining timely 
information, zealously as its men and officers per- 
formed their arduous duties, could do little to check 
the traffic. The captures which they made scarcely 
compensated for the additional suffering caused to 


the slaves by the increased crowding and the pre- 
cautions taken by their masters against capture. 

England, when Lord Palmerston was in power, had 
been wont to take the lead in the contest with the 
slave trade ; and it belonged especially to England to 
do so in the present case, because the Zanzibar territory, 
whence nearly all the slaves were shipped, was, or 
might at her will become, as much under British 
influence as a native state of India; and the East 
African merchants who profited by the traffic were 
most of them Banians — British subjects from India. 
But though Lord Palmerston was no longer there, 
another Englishman now stepped into the breach, 
Sir Lewis Pelly — in fact two Englishmen, the other 
being Sir Bartle Frere; and between them, aided by 
the local officer, Dr. Kirk, they so acted on the Sultan 
of Zanzibar that on June 5th, 1873, he signed a treaty 
abolishing and closing slavery on his coast for ever. 
In this treaty he formally and explicitly engaged that 
the transport and export of slaves from the coast for 
any purpose should cease entirely, that all public 
slave markets in his dominions should be closed, and 
that protection should be given to liberated slaves. 
It was at the same time arranged that natives of 
Indian states under British protection should be 
prohibited from possessing slaves. 

There now remained only one territory under 
British sway where slavery was still in force — and 
not only in force, but being extended by a portion of 
the population with all their might— and that was in 
South Africa among its Boer population. We all 
know what Mrs. Josephine Butler and Sir Charles 
Warren had to say on the subject. 

To return. The design for the Sukkur Bridge was 
the concluding item in the continuous Engineer em- 


i 3 o THE SUKKUR BRIDGE: 1871-6 

ployment or study, which began on Browne's return 
to India in 1864, and consequently covered a period of 
eleven years — and he had by this time proved himself 
as capable and as many-sided in varied engineering 
of a high class as he had done in the rough-and-ready 
work and ingenious contrivances of his earlier days ; 
and he was now about to leave it — after some pre- 
liminary explorations and surveys — for a turn of 
political and military experiences. 

During all this period of eleven years he had been 
out of direct touch with public matters, excepting 
those in which he had been closely concerned, and 
which were almost entirely of only local interest. 
But the results of the more general and grave events 
at its close give an important colouring and effect 
to the duties on which he would soon be engaged, and 
they will therefore be touched on briefly. 

During Lord Mayo's rule Russia, as has been 
already shown, had not been making any actual 
advance towards the south, being occupied chiefly 
with the Kirghiz and other tribes on the more northern 
parts of Central Asia, and in approaches by the 
north towards such positions as Khiva. 

But with the revival of Masterly Inactivity under 
Northbrook came a change. Kaufmann began an 
insidious correspondence with Shere Ali — insidious, 
that is, considering the real and recognised position 
of affairs, which was this : The Russian Chancellor 
had declared in the spring of 1869, that Afghanistan 
was " completely outside the sphere within which 
Russia may be called upon to exercise her influence," 
and in the following November he had informed Sir 
A. Buchanan that " he saw no objection whatever to 
English officers visiting Cabul, though he agreed with 
Lord Mayo that Russian agents should not do so." 



Yet now, in spite of these assurances, Kaufmann sent 
Russian agents in 1870 to Cabul with letters to Shere 
Ali, thus starting correspondence between Tashkent 
and the Afghan capital which was first continued in a 
desultory and insidious manner until the year 1874, 
and then began to assume a more important aspect ; 
for in the spring of that year General Kolpakoffsky, 
in Kaufmann's absence, wrote a letter to Shere Ali 
which was very significant in tone, referring to 
" devotion " on the side of the Ameer and " grace " on 
the part of the Czar. After this there was a brief 
pause in the correspondence ; but next year fresh 
letters were sent to the Ameer, and from that time 
they became more frequent and more significant in 
tone, Kaufmann, now again on the scene, even going 
so far as to propose to Shere Ali that he should sign 
a treaty of commerce, and also enter into an offensive 
and defensive alliance with the Russian Government. 
This was categorically denied by Prince Gortchakoff ; 
but in spite of this the correspondence was continued, 
and after two years more of secret negotiations, it be- 
came evident to the Indian Government that Kaufmann 
had succeeded in turning Shere Ali aside from his 
alliance with the English. 




WHILE Browne was engaged on the designs 
for the Sukkur Bridge, Lord Northbrook's 
rule was approaching its end in ordinary 
course, but it stopped short before that course was 
over, in consequence of the change of ministry in 
England, and the resulting change in the policy of 
England in India and elsewhere, in regard to the 
Eastern Question — a change in which Lord North- 
brook could not acquiesce. 

To carry out these changes, Lord Lytton was 
selected for the viceroyalty, and he at once proceeded 
vigorously to acquire the special knowledge desir- 
able for the post, and to make the needful arrange- 
ments and master the questions that seemed likely 
to be involved. 

In proposing now to describe his preparations, 
an unusual step in this memoir, it seems necessary 
to explain that this departure from the ordinary 
course of the narrative is advisable in consequence 
primarily of Lord Lytton's exceptional characteristics, 
as a man of genius, and as an autocratic administrator 




and statesman determined to disregard conventional 

It will be seen that he was unique in setting aside 
the ordinary course for the selection and employment 
of officers for the several Government posts, and 
that one of his first special selections was that of 
Browne ; starting him on quite a new career and in 
a new line, by which he was forthwith, and perma- 
nently, brought into direct contact with the Supreme 
Government and its highest officers. 

Three months elapsed between Lord Lytton's 
acceptance of the viceroyalty and his arrival in 
India to take up its duties — and this interval was 
fully occupied in study and preparation for them, 
including prolonged conversations with men of mark, 
and of experience cognate to his future work. John 
Lawrence and John Forster, Fitzjames Stephen and 
Bartle Frere, were among those whom he thus con- 
sulted ; and not the least important of his discussions 
were those he held with the Russian Ambassador, 
Shouvaloff. For the chief and most pressing of the 
matters to be dealt with on his arrival in India was 
the situation in regard to the Eastern Question, as 
it involved a new departure in the attitude of England 
and Russia and in the external and frontier policy 
of the Indian Government. For while the frontier 
relations, i.e. with Afghanistan, had been easy and 
the dangers from Russian intrigues far distant when 
Lord Northbrook had entered on his career, the great 
change already mentioned had arisen, the Ameer had 
by this time become alienated, and the plots and 
schemes of the Russian frontier politicals were 
clouding the near horizon and assuming a threatening 
aspect. Kaufmann was corresponding directly and 
entering into close relations with the Ameer, as if 


with an independent foreign Power, free of any 
connection with England or the Indian Government. 
The Ameer, on the other hand, while seeking vehe- 
mently the support and help of India, had been 
frightened and alienated by Lord Northbrook's cold- 
ness and harshness and his absolute disregard of 
his (the Ameer's) positive assertions of the rooted 
objection of the Afghans to the presence of English- 
men in their country. He would not tolerate this 
apathetic attitude, and feeling himself unable either to 
get from England the support he needed, or on the 
other hand to stand alone, he was gradually throwing 
himself into the arms of Russia for alliance and help. 

Lord Lytton, though learning that all this had 
been going on, did not feel so fully as he might 
otherwise have done, and as others had felt, the in- 
sidious ways in force with Russia in Asia — one policy 
between the courts of Russia and England, and a 
perfectly different one between the subordinate rulers 
of Turkestan and India — for he had been more con- 
cerned with the Russian proceedings with Turkey 
and in England. By the end of 1875, while preparing 
for his new charge, Lytton had before him the 
fact that Russia was pushing forward in Central 
Asia, and was now supporting Bosnia and other 
states in hostility to Turkey; but it was not till he 
had reached India that the actively hostile measures 
of Russia against Turkey itself began. Meanwhile 
he had come to one important conclusion, in concert 
with Sir Bartle Frere, with whose views he found 
himself entirely in unison, that (1) an alliance with 
Cabul was the most important and effective arrange- 
ment to be aimed at ; but (2) if that was found 
impossible, then it should be sought for at Khelat, 
Candahar, and Herat, and in Persia. 


Eventually Lord Lytton left England on March 1st, 
1876; and after meeting Frere and others en route, 
reached Bombay on April 7th, and Calcutta on the 
1 2th, when he took the oaths and charge of the 
viceroyalty — then towards the end of the month he 
proceeded to Simla. 

Now, not only was Lord Lytton himself a genius, 
as has been noted, but he was careful to be ac- 
companied by another exceptional genius in Colonel 
Colley, nominally his Military Secretary, but in point 
of fact so exceptionally his close adviser in all 
matters that he superseded almost all other officials, 
and was veritably his alter ego. Was this likely to 
be a safe combination, added as it was to a disregard 
amounting almost to contempt, save in a few in- 
stances, of established capacity and repute? 

It must be explained that, though a crisis was at 
hand, the whole of the proceedings of Russia in the 
course of this narrative of the events with which 
Browne was concerned on the north-west frontier 
of India were in strict conformity with her habitual 
policy and practice as specially described by Lord 
Palmerston, and expressed in the Memoirs 1 of Lord 
Lytton's administration as follows : 

u The Russians have always pushed forward their 
policy of encroachments as fast and as far as the apathy 
and want of firmness of other Governments would 
allow it to go, but have always stopped and retired 
when it was met with decided resistance, and then 
waited for the next favourable opportunity to make 
another spring on its intended victim. In furtherance 
of this policy they have always had two strings to 
their bow — moderate language and disinterested pro- 
fessions at Petersburg and London, active aggressions 
by their agents on the scene of operations. If the 

1 See page 70 of it. 


aggressions succeed locally, the Petersburg Govern- 
ment adopt them as a fait accompli, which it had not 
intended, but cannot in honour recede from. If the 
local agents fail, they are disarmed and recalled, and 
the language previously held is appealed to as a proof 
that the agents have overstepped their instructions. 

"This was exemplified in the treaty of Unkiar- 
Skelessi and in the exploits of Simonivitch and 
Vikovitch in Persia. Orloff succeeded in extorting the 
treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi from the Turks, and it 
was represented as a sudden thought suggested by 
the circumstances of the time and place, and not the 
result of any previous instructions ; but having been 
done, it could not be undone. 

" On the other hand Simonivitch and Vikovitch 
failed in getting possession of Herat in consequence 
of our vigorous measures of resistance ; and, as they 
failed and when they had failed, they were disavowed 
and recalled, and the language held at Petersburg 
was appealed to as a proof of the sincerity of the 
disavowal, although no human being with two ideas 
in his head could for a moment doubt that they had 
acted under specific instructions." 

With Lord Lytton's arrival in India as a new 
Viceroy we come, as has been said, to the turning- 
point in Browne's career. Heretofore he had been 
more or less on his trial in many varieties of employ- 
ment, and successful in all, with corresponding repute, 
though practically as yet only local. But, as has 
been described, Lord Lytton was inclined to look 
about and choose and decide for himself. So no 
sooner did he get to Simla, than he took notice of 
Browne, found that his present work was, temporarily 
at any rate, at an end or at a definitive stage, and 
selected him forthwith for a special temporary task — 
the survey of the country between Sukkur (to which 
he still belonged) and Sibi at the foot of the Bolan 
Pass. It may be pointed out that the country 
lying between Sukkur and Sibi is part of the 



Beloochistan territory, and his work in it would 
throw him into close relations with its people, the 
Beloochees, just as his old work near Attock and 
Peshawur had done in regard to the Pathans of that 
more northern district. 

Further, all his future work was to lie in this 
direction, excepting in the instance of the Egyptian 
war, and of his tenure of the post of Quartermaster- 
General of the army ; and here too, eventually, he 
was to end his days while still in harness. It may 
be safely added that with its prosperity his name 
will ever be identified, and also that his views and 
proposals clinched its importance and value to the 
empire by constituting in it the site of the principal 
defensive position against hostile aggression on our 
north-west frontier. 

Before entering on the story of his personal work 
and operations, it may be as well to describe the lie 
of the principal places. About fifty miles north- 
west of Sukkur is Jacobabad, where the British ruler 
of old used to reside. Khelat, the capital of the 
province and the fortress of the Khan, lies about 
a hundred miles to the west, and Sibi, at the foot 
of the Quetta Hills, the same distance to the north- 
west of Jacobabad, with Dadur, an important city, a 
few miles off. At Kusmore, some way up the river, is 
a huge embankment, at the site where the old course 
of the Indus bent in from its present channel. 

With these preliminary remarks on the scene of 
Browne's future work, we turn to the description 
and recent history of the province and its people. 

Until the period which our story has now reached, 
Beloochistan was an almost unknown region, and 
had not been dealt with by the British Government 
or its officers, except in connection with the old 


Afghan war, and as a district to be severely checked 
and kept in order. 

Our agency for this purpose used to lie in (1) our 
wardens of the Marches of Scinde, where Beloo- 
chistan and Scinde were conterminous, and (2) in 
the Punjab Government stretching northwards from 
Scinde. The first step of this story of Beloochistan 
is naturally that of the state of matters described by 
the last of those famous rulers — the wardens of those 
marches — Sir Henry Green, the representative of such 
predecessors and administrators as Sir Charles Napier, 
Sir James Outram, Sir Bartle Frere, John Jacob, 
Malcolm Green, Merewether, and others. The descrip- 
tion now given is based on information kindly given 
by Sir Henry Green. 

Scinde is divided from Beloochistan by the Brahui 
range of mountains, which rise near the sea to the 
west of Kurrachee and run north to the west of 
Shikarpore, and then trend north-west to Quetta, 
forming the southern side of the Bolan Pass — of 
which the northern side forms part of the Suliman 
Range, and joins the Himalayas north of Peshawur. 

Nearly all the Belooch tribes reside in the plains, 
including Cutchee. All the Brahui tribes reside in 
the mountains of Beloochistan. They are quite dis- 
tinct from each other in every way, as will be more 
fully shown later on. Sir Henry Green is of opinion 
that the tribes inhabiting Beloochistan originally 
consisted of Hindoos who had fled from Rajpootana, 
and India generally, owing to political convulsions — 
and that in the mountains of Beloochistan, west of the 
Indus, they were practically safe. When Alexander 
the Great passed through Scinde, the Punjab, and 
Beloochistan, en route to Bagdad, he dropped numbers 
of people in the country that had followed his army 


from Scythia, etc., as there are many tribes with 
Scythian names among those that inhabit Mekran. 
There are also some who still retain in their marriages 
many of the old Greek rites. 

Then about 700 a.d. came the Mahomedan invasions 
when all were turned to that faith, including the 
people of Scinde. Many of the Belooch — not Scinde — 
tribes have all the appearance of both Grecian and 
Arab descent. And in travelling in Syria and 
Palestine Sir Henry found tribes bearing the same 
names as those on the Scinde frontiers. All 
Beloochees wear the turban, the Scindees a cap of 
one shape, the Brahuis one of another shape. 

The whole Beloochee question is a very extra- 
ordinary one ; but too long to allow of more than 
a short outline. The Scindee, the Belooch, and the 
Brahui are all distinct from each other. The men 
who fought Sir C. Napier at Meeanee were mainly 
Scindees, but some Belooch tribes joined them. Sir 
C. Napier, however, not knowing better, called them 
all Belooch. It may be parenthetically mentioned, as 
a first step in civilisation, that since General Jacob's 
days there has ever been this feature in common — that 
there has been no forced labour in any part of the 

The first officer who had direct influence and 
control over these Beloochees in the days of this 
story was Captain, afterwards Sir Robert, Sandeman. 
When he first went to Beloochistan, it was as one 
of the civil frontier officers of the Punjab, and 
at that time the principal looting tribes along its 
frontier, of which he was cognisant, were the Murrees 
and Bhoogtees. These, being Belooch, were nominally 
under the control of the Khan of Khelat ; but he, in 
fact, had no real control over them, for unfortunately 


half their country lay on the frontier of Scinde and 
the other half on that of the Punjab — so that they 
came under two opposite systems of management. 

On the Scinde frontier the outpost officers were 
held responsible for maintaining the frontier intact 
from raids, and they did not care under whose 
supposed control the raiders were. Any armed man 
crossing our frontier was killed. All natives inside 
the Scinde frontier were disarmed, so as to prevent 
their making raids into the mountains and causing 
the inhabitants there to retaliate ; for this would 
have kept up a constant state of irritation and 

In the Punjab, however, all within the border were 
allowed to carry arms and do what they liked, and 
the military were under the political agents, and 
could not move without their authority. Now the 
Murrees and the Bhoogtees were the tribes that lay 
on the frontier of the Punjab (as distinguished from 
Scinde), and they used to loot in the Punjab in retalia- 
tion for the men from inside the Punjab frontier 
looting them ; and the moment a looting party of 
Murrees or Bhoogtees perpetrated a raid in the Punjab, 
Sandeman, the Punjab officer, would write to the 
Scinde officers to call upon the Khan of Khelat to 
control his subjects. They were not, however, his 
subjects ; but the Khan, it may be explained, received 
a yearly subsidy of 50,000 rupees, not for any general 
control, but specifically for keeping open the Bolan 
Pass for the free travelling of kafilas. Sir Henry, 
as an expert, knew that the Khan had no real or 
practical control over these tribes ; and his reply 
used to be, " If they attempt to loot me, I hold my 
outpost officers responsible, and the looters get 
killed. I do not run howling to the Khan of Khelat." 


His hint obviously was that Sandeman should do 

Sir Henry knew that as matters stood the Khan 
could not control the Beloochees, and that what was 
needed and what he strongly recommended was that 
the Scinde frontier should be extended so as to take 
in the whole of the country inhabited by the Murree 
and Bhoogtee tribes ; and had he been able to remain, 
this would probably have been done. All would then 
have been under one system — and no more would 
have been heard from Sandeman about raids. 

But when Sir Henry Green gave up the command 
of the frontier of Scinde, it was placed under the late 
Sir R. Phayre, who knew nothing of frontier matters ; 
and a change came over the scene. Merewether was 
then Commissioner of Scinde. Sandeman saw his 
chance, came to Jacobabad, and soon got Phayre 
under his influence ; and then they both set to work 
to oppose Merewether and to upset Jacob's system. 
The question really developed into a special phase 
of the chronic coolness or variance between Bombay, 
and the Government of India with the Punjab as its 
local representative. 

Sandeman was backed up by the Foreign Secretary 
in Calcutta; and the end was that Merewether was 
appointed to the Indian Council to get him out of the 
way, and the Murrees and Bhoogtees were placed 
under Sandeman's political rule. 

Afterwards, when Lord Lytton went out as 
Governor-General, he sent for Green and asked him 
to go to India with him to advise him in regard to 
the frontier, giving him an account of the conversation 
he had held with the Russian Ambassador. Green 
declined, but wrote him a long memorandum on 
the subject of Beloochistan and the frontier. In 


this memorandum he said that the political officer, 
whoever he might select, in charge of Beloochistan 
should be raised to the position of a Commissioner, 
be placed direct under the Governor-General, and 
have his status greatly improved. 

So much for the histor}' of the pre-Lytton days ; 
but eventually — that is, in the period with which the 
story is now about to deal, when Lord Lytton arrived 
on the frontier — Sandeman was there to meet him, 
and got him under his influence. The whole of 
Green's programme was then carried out, for Sandeman 
was put in charge backed by the Governor-General, 
when of course all official difficulty was at an end. 

The preceding remarks contain a genuine account 
of the past of the people of the Belooch tract, as 
shown by Sir Henry Green, but further details will 
be given later on. Meanwhile it may be readily 
seen what difficulties the real administration of the 
tract, eventually vested in Sir R. Sandeman, had to 
deal with and surmount. The immediate successor 
to Green had been Merewether, and he had adopted 
the principles of his predecessors — Frere, Jacob, and 
the Greens; but he was an obstruction to those in 
power, and met with divided counsels and with more 
or less of opposition instead of support ; and whatever 
the personal results, a wavering and uncertain policy 
arose and naturally brought about a want of con- 
fidence in British consistency and sincerity. 

Having dealt with the previous story of the 
Beloochees before they really came under our cog- 
nisance except as a race outside our control, and 
requiring to be watched and coerced, we have now 
to describe more fully their habits and characteristics. 
For their relations with us during the twenty-eight 
years from 1875, when they first came into closer 



contact with us, till they had turned into cheery and 
hearty subjects of Browne's genial sway, have shown 
them to be one of the finest and most promising 
races that have been brought within the ring fence 
of British Rule. 

Their country varies in character, being mountain- 
ous along its northern half and a plain elsewhere ; 
so that the men are partly horsemen and partly 
footmen or camel-drivers. As a whole Beloochistan is 
an oblong tract of country running from north-east to 
south-west between the Punjab and Persia, and bor- 
dered by Afghanistan and Scinde on the north-west and 
south-east respectively, with the River Indus flowing 
close along the border in Scinde. The Beloochees are 
a feudal race, divided into clans and owing vassalage 
and obedience to their chiefs like the Highlanders of 
Scotland and the Rajpoots of Rajpootana and Oude. 
But they had no monarch, and were not under any 
other sway. 

They are a wild and warlike people, and by religion 
are Mahomedans, but they differ from nearly all 
other Mahomedans in the liberty they allow to the 
women of the race, who are left quite free and are 
not kept under any seclusion or surveillance. But 
the strictest conduct and decorum are required from 
them, and ferocious and unchecked punishment is 
meted out to them for any misconduct. When their 
own relations do not admit the truth of the suspicion 
and the justice of the consequent punishments or 
murders, family feuds are apt to ensue, merging, it 
may be, into tribal, racial, and international wars. 

The result was the prevalence of anarchy through- 
out the whole province and on its Afghan and 
Persian borders, taking the form of raids in the 
case of the British frontiers — i.e. of the Punjab and 


Scinde. It is with the result of these raids that we 
have to deal. Until 1876 the Commissioner of Scinde 
used to take cognisance of the raids into Scinde, 
and a Punjab frontier political officer of those across 
the Punjab frontier ; but the Scinde administration 
having raised the question of the management of 
all Belooch raids being left in their hands, it was 
eventually settled, in 1876, by the Government of 
India that there should be an entire change, and that 
all the Belooch tribes of Beloochistan should be 
recognised as a Belooch confederacy, with the Khan of 
Khelat as its chief; and that the management of their 
affairs should not be left to Scinde, but entrusted to 
one selected officer dealing direct with the Government 
of India, to be called the. Governor-General's Agent 
(G.G.A.) for Beloochistan. The officer then appointed 
to the post, who therefore was the first to take full 
charge of Beloochistan affairs, was Colonel Robert 
Sandeman ; who, as the Punjab political officer on 
the spot, had managed the discussion on the Punjab 
side. He retained the post for sixteen years, from 
1876 till his death in 1892. This arrangement settled 
two matters : (1) the charge of the relations between 
Government and the people of Beloochistan ; and (2) 
the constitution of the confederate Beloochee tribes. 

But the real work had now to begin — i.e. the 
suppression of the chronic anarchy ; for whatever the 
causes of that anarchy, it had to be suppressed and 
law and order introduced. Now besides the one great 
cause already explained, another had been at work 
for some time. The greatest of the tribes was that 
of which the Khan of Khelat was the head — and his 
position was that of the feudal leader of all the 
confederate tribes of Beloochistan. It was owing 
to this that in the first war with Afghanistan the 


British had attacked him and stormed his fort, in 
the defence of which he had been killed. 

But the present Khan, Khodadad Khan, had been 
aiming at the suppression of the confederacy by the 
crushing of the other tribes — and at thus securing 
for himself the monarchy of the country. This the 
other Khans universally and strenuously resisted. 
Hence the second great cause of anarchy. 

In fact the great disturbing element in Beloochistan, 
throughout Sandeman's incumbency of the post, lay 
in the unsettled relations that had arisen between the 
Khan and the other chiefs of the clans. For against 
this personal aim of the one man, Khodadad Khan, 
and his own tribal following was arrayed the whole 
force of the other Belooch tribes, and also of the 
British Power, to enforce peace and tranquillity. But 
apparently Sandeman was not disposed to utilise 
these influences so much as the power of personal 
persuasion and friendliness. He made great strides 
in this direction during his sixteen years of rule, and 
would probably have effected it thoroughly but for 
the fact that his own health was failing, and he had 
to take leave to England repeatedly during his 
agency. This unavoidably prevented his doing justice 
to his own intense desire for peaceful and persuasive 
methods of settling the country. 

His first and immediate task, then, was to try 
to reconcile the several tribes with the Khan of 
Khelat and with each other. He met the Khan at 
Khelat in 1876, and the incidents on that occasion 
showed the Khan's objection to any interference with 
his right to take the law into his own hands. His agents 
attacked and slaughtered first some of the followers 
of the Brahui chiefs coming by order to the Khelat 
durbar, and then Noor Deen, one of those chiefs 



himself. But this untoward behaviour did not deter 
the holding of another meeting shortly afterwards 
at Mastung, in which the Khan and the Sirdars came 
to a formal agreement and pledge, signing an instru- 
ment to forget the past and cease all hostilities. This 
forthwith led, after reference to England, to a formal 
treaty, which, as will be seen later on, was concluded 
at a meeting of Lord Lytton with the Khan and 
the whole body of Beloochee Sirdars ; at which the 
independence of the Khan and the Sirdars was recog- 
nised, but the British Government was constituted 
the final referee in cases of dispute, and obtained the 
supreme control over Beloochistan affairs, with the 
right of locating troops in the territory. 

Sandeman had now got the Beloochees in hand, 
to a certain extent, and had been endeavouring — and 
after a while with success, but only to a partial extent 
and unstable degree — to induce the chiefs to come 
to terms with each other and with the Khan. But it 
was uphill and very anxious work for some time to 
come. Browne, who had arrived on the scene, felt 
that he carried his life in his hand. The country was 
quite new to the English. The inhabitants had here- 
tofore been kept at arm's length by those who resided 
outside their frontier. Not only did feuds prevail 
among the Beloochees themselves, but practically the 
state of the country was one of utter lawlessness ; 
and bad and wild characters, fanatics and would-be 
assassins, prowled about all over these districts 

Sandeman, as yet, had only personal influence — no 
real power or authority with the people. It was, 
for all practical purposes, a foreign state, where no 
man acknowledged any authority save that of his 
feudal superior, and where pure anarchy prevailed. 



The first sign of an approaching change, of a 
chance of peacefulness, began at the time of Lord 
Lytton's assumption of -the viceroyalty ; and as it 
was probable that highly placed representatives, if 
not Lord Lytton himself, might visit the provinces 
ere long, the most persistent and strenuous efforts 
were being made during 1876 to improve the state 
of matters, and with this much success, that the Khan 
had allowed communications to be held with England, 
in hopes of raising his own status. But until settled 
Government, settled habits, and formal agreements 
came on the scene, strife, murder, and chaos were 
bound to prevail ; not that the people were naturally 
ferocious, but that the Khan himself was specially 
so, and gave the murky taint to the social atmosphere. 

Much, however, was done during 1876, that first 
year of the Lytton rule. Quetta was quietly occupied 
first by local troops, and then by a Sikh regiment ; 
and roads and improvements were begun, with some 
necessary military and police arrangements, and the 
occupation of important points in the roads and 
passes. So that, except in his outrages against those 
clans and clansmen whom he deemed hostile to him- 
self, the Khan of Khelat did not actually check the 
advance of the improvements in his state, though 
he kept Sandeman and the British in a fever of 
anxiety as to the increased anarchy, if not actual 
warfare, that might ensue if a formal treaty were 
not soon ratified, giving the British Government the 
powers necessary to ensure the proper tranquillity 
of the state. 

For meanwhile the aspect of affairs in the Afghan- 
istan direction and beyond it was threatening — and 
important measures were being adopted, though very 
quietly, by the British Government. 




further history of browne's double — browne in 
the cutchee — colley sent to beloochistan — lord 
lytton's policy — Russia's movements — Browne's 
post on the kakur frontier. 

A T this juncture, in addition to the account of 

l \ Beloochistan and its people, it is expedient to 
break the narrative of Browne's personal career 
by dealing with the case of his double, to which 
allusion has alread}^ been made in Chapter VI. It 
has been stated that a young English officer re- 
tired from the service, intending to lead a life of 
travel and adventure, and that this officer bore a 
singular resemblance to Browne. Our narrative will 
now deal with these travels and adventures until, 
owing to that resemblance, he came, in a marked 
manner and with singular results, into Browne's 

Our double at first retired from Peshawur into 
the neighbouring hill tracts, studied hard at Pushtoo, 
Persian, Arabic, and such other Oriental languages 
as might be useful, and there fell in with an enter- 
prising Mullah named Abdul Razak; took a strong 
liking to him, which led by degrees to warm and 
lasting friendship ; and under his guidance got 


thoroughly initiated into Afghan and Mahomedan 
ways and habits. They soon agreed to travel to- 
gether in Oriental lands as merchants ; and, as a 
first step, he crossed the frontier with his friend, 
disguised as a Mullah, with the assumed name of 
Ishmael Ali. 

Then they joined a kafila (or caravan) travelling 
by Bokhara, Merv, Persia, and Asia Minor, to Con- 
stantinople. After a prolonged halt there, where 
they had added to their position and means by the 
study and practice of medicine and of mesmerism, 
they went still farther afield, made the pilgrimage 
to Mecca, and so became hajees and people of im- 
portance, whatever the community into which they 
might be thrown. 

In this prosperous state as hajees, as traders, and 
as doctors and mesmerists, they first returned to 
Constantinople, and thence proceeded back to Herat, 
and Ghuznee, and so on to Cabul — not retracing their 
steps, but adopting a new route. 

At Mecca they had been presented by the Shereef 
with a special copy of the Koran, and they now decided 
to present this to the Ameer of Cabul, Shere Ali. 
In due course, after reaching Cabul, they appeared 
before the Ameer, presented the Koran, were 
graciously received, and after an interval went south 
to Abdul Razak's family village of Deela, near 
Mukkur and Lake Abistade, which lie on the east 
of the road from Ghuznee to Khelat-i-Ghilzie, half- 
way between them. There, in course of time, he 
married and settled down. 

Ishmael Ali was obviously a man of much shrewd- 
ness, spirit, and enterprise ; in physique he was very 
powerful and sturdy, and fond of athletics — and in 
appearance had grown very like Browne, with the 


same eyes, face, beard, and figure. While at Deela, 
he continued to pose as a Mullah and a doctor, 
acquired a reputation for sanctit}^ and was much 
resorted to and noticed. He entered fully into Afghan 
family life, and became a great favourite in the local 
circles, his only peculiarity — for which he used to 
be chaffed — being his making a pet, contrary to all 
native propriety, of a dog which he always had with 
him. To the Ameer and others he made no secret 
of being an Englishman, but in his habits and ways, 
manner of life and demeanour, acted fully up to his 
assumed role of Mahomedan Mullah. 

It is not known in what year Ishmael Ali settled 
down at Deela or Mukkur; but assuming it to have 
been about 1870 — i.e. five years after his start over 
the Peshawur borders — he would in the course of the 
next four years— i.e. by 1874-5 — have become known 
to many of the Pathans and Ghilzyes who travelled 
to the Quetta frontier either by the direct road from 
Cabul to Candahar, or by the eastern passes to the 
Derajat and Beloochistan. 

Hence it was that Ghilzyes and others who travelled 
southwards through Mukkur, and then wandered about 
in Beloochistan, where Browne had begun to survey 
and work, were struck by his resemblance to the 
Mullah, and talked to each other of it. 

Further, any mysterious idea on the point, or on 
the consequent question of identity, was strengthened 
by the fact, to which further allusion will be made 
later on, that the veritable Mullah had now begun to 
be employed by the Ameer, being sent southwards to 
Candahar and elsewhere to ascertain and report on 
the proceedings of the British and others in that 
quarter — the more so because he, the Ameer, had 
quarrelled with the Ghilzye clan, who would naturally 


have been his agents for such inquiries. Hence 
arose the fact that the travelling Afghan com- 
munity and the Ghilzyes especially began in 1876 
to assert that Browne was the Mullah in dis- 
guise. And from this fact, another followed — most 
important — that he went about amongst all these wild 
folk and the swarms of fanatics in perfect safety, im- 
pervious to the attack of Ghazees and the like. 

The task which had been now assigned to Browne 
was twofold : one the reconnaissance, in view of roads 
and railroads, between Sukkur and Quetta, including 
the Cutchee Plain and the passes from it to Pesheen, 
all lying in Beloochistan; and the other the setting 
out across that plain of an alignment for a road 
or railway from Sukkur to Dadur, at the foot of 
the Bolan Pass. 

This apparently involved only the examination, 
from an engineer's point of view, of a comparatively 
small tract of country ; but Browne, with his thought- 
ful mind and broad views, saw that even the engineer 
part of the question he had to deal with was not 
really a small, but a very serious and extensive one, 
stretching far beyond the area designated — and that 
in addition to this the subject was gravely affected 
by our relations with the border tribes, and by the 
outlook from the action and bearings of the Afghan- 
istan and Eastern questions, and was consequently 
of great political, as well as engineer, importance. 

To take the latter points first, he had not hitherto, 
either at Sukkur or elsewhere, seen much of the real 
Beloochees, and he was now surprised and pleased 
to find them a much heartier and pleasanter people 
to get on with than the Pathans and than he had 
expected ; but at the same time he realised another 
fact, that in the more hilly ground between the plains 


and Pesheen, Afghans and Pathans, and not Beloochees 
only, were in great numbers — and fanatic Pathans 
roamed about freely. Further, the Afghanistan and 
Eastern questions were advancing into a more pro- 
minent and acute stage, and, as already touched on, 
a great change had occurred in the political outlook 
since the days when Lord Mayo was Governor- 
General. The Ameer, who was then on the most 
friendly terms with us, had since become alienated 
and irritated by the decision in the arbitration 
regarding the province of Seistan, of which he was 
now to retain only a portion. And at the same time 
the persistent advances and absorptions of Russia, 
and the diplomacy of her agents, especially with the 
Ameer, were making vigorous and decisive action 
necessary on the part of the British Government. 
Browne had begun to watch this matter keenly ; and 
in these circumstances, and one other — the matter of 
his double — no more fortunate selection than that 
of Browne could have been made for the task which 
he had now in hand. To himself it was of great 
value, because it led to his seeking for and acquiring 
a still more thorough knowledge of those border 
tribes and their complications, and of the numerous 
bearings of the Afghanistan and Eastern questions, 
and to his soon discriminating between the real people 
of the country and the aliens. 

While Browne was engaged on his initial steps, 
the Government and the Khan of Khelat were await- 
ing the receipt from England of the treaty which had 
been proposed for more intimate relations with the 
Khan ; and now before the year was over, and while 
Browne was hard at work, the treaty arrived. 

The first overt step taken was the dispatch to 
Beloochistan in early autumn, 1876, of the inevitable 



Colonel Colley to influence the Khan towards its 
proper adoption. The phrase " inevitable " is used of set 
purpose, for from this time forward all the customary 
official agency for any particular task was set aside, 
and Colley was substituted for it. The result was, 
for a time at any rate, a success — and very shortly 
after Colley appeared in Beloochistan came the Viceroy 
himself, who in the end made much of the Khan, 
and invited him to attend the great durbar at Delhi 
then impending, for the proclamation of the Queen 
as Empress of India. 

Colonel Colley had presented the proposed treaty 
to the Khan and also the invitation to the impending 
gathering at Delhi, and on November 8th Lord Lytton 
carried through the treaty. Its objects were : 

1. The maintenance of our commanding influence 

in Khelat. 

2. A strong and settled Government. 

3. The freedom and security of the Bolan Pass. 

4. The pacification of the Cutchee plains. 

5. Arrangements for Quetta. 

Since then, the Bolan Pass has never been closed ; 
and although the local tribes and people were very 
warlike and had never been settled heretofore, 
Browne was surveying away among them, exciting 
their curiosity with his instruments and proceedings, 
and carrying his life in his hand. Still, as his manner 
was, he gradually became known and popular among 
the people — and no evil ever occurred. 

In the south, towards Sukkur and Quetta and 
Beloochistan generally, much more real activity — 
not merely these diplomatic proceedings — had been 
started. There was genuine hard work in hand. 
The old turmoils have been described, and Sande- 


man's difficulties in the management of the Belooch 
chiefs and clans. Now, however, he had at last begun 
to acquire personal influence with the Khan of Khelat, 
the fons et origo malt — and the more formal nego- 
tiations, pressed by Lord Lytton, were also being 
settled, as it was a matter of grave moment that this 
territory of Beloochistan, on the southern borders 
of Afghanistan, should be not only quiet, but friendly, 
during the impending struggle. Browne, too, as a 
matter of course, was vigorously engaged on his 

Meanwhile, besides the survey, he had the specific 
duty to carry out of laying down the alignment of 
the road towards the passes — and this task he per- 
formed in the course of his survey work on this wild 
and new country, where every man's hand seemed 
to be against every one else. But his old bonhomie 
carried him through it all. The people, as usual, 
took a liking to him ; and while he used to hear of 
barbarities all round, he was never seriously molested. 
His use of his astronomical and other instruments, 
and little useful, though almost childish, presents for 
which he had arranged, interested and pleased the 
chiefs and people; and he really became a power 
with them. He pulled thoroughly well with Sande- 
man and received his hearty support — the more 
especially that the results of his survey and other 
work were most useful and valuable to Sandeman's 
administrative wants during these early rough days of 
the beginning of a civilised Beloochistan. 

In proceeding with his survey, then, and his align- 
ment, during which he was alone and without escort, 
he found it at first pleasanter, as has been mentioned, 
than he had expected, owing to the genial character 
of the Beloochees ; but in the higher ground nearer 


the northern border the great mixture of races in 
the inhabitants made the work there harder, though 
altogether he was enabled in the end to acquire a 
very correct knowledge of the measures necessary for 
the utilisation of the passes. 

What, however, involved a wider and more serious 
question was the engineer treatment of the tract in 
the plain along the foot of the hill country through 
which the passes ran. In his early charge on the 
Punjab frontier, his duty had taken him as far south 
as the Kusmore embankment, and he had been always 
impressed with its liability to being breached by 
exceptional floods in the Indus and with the conse- 
quences that might ensue. Now, therefore, in dealing 
with the question of routes for railway and other 
communications, he held that this point demanded 
careful consideration, and consequently he continued 
his reconnaissance of the plain between the Indus 
and the hills more eastwards up to Kusmore, and 
learnt by his levels that a breach of the embank- 
ment would, to a certainty, permanently interrupt 
any road communication between Sukkur (with the 
Indus Valley Railway there) and the hills at Quetta — 
for this reason, that through the whole length of 
that Cutchee Plain there ran a hollow depression, 
which would form a new channel for the waters of 
the Indus on their escaping through the Kusmore 

He had been on this survey all through the winter 
of 1876-7, and had received direct instructions on 
particular points from the Viceroy himself, in accord- 
ance with Lord Lytton's exceptional practice; and 
by March, 1877, he had ascertained all this, besides 
including the Dadur district within his inquisition — 
and still more, he had, as already mentioned, located 


a portion of a line of railway between Sukkur and 
Sibi, the entrance of the Bolan Pass. Though he 
had been practically alone on this survey, he had 
been again brought much into contact with Sir G. 
Molesworth, under whom he had been engaged on 
the Sukkur Bridge designs, and a very warm friend- 
ship had now sprung up between them ; and he had 
hoped to be allowed to plot his work at Simla and 
be able to explain matters to the Viceroy — but this 
was negatived. 

He therefore arranged to send his family to England, 
and then without further delay he went to Mooltan 
and there drew up his report ; in which, besides 
dealing with the points that had been proposed to 
him and criticising them fully, he went farther, and 
boldly suggested and explained the much more 
extensive operations which the lie of the country 
and the weak points of the Kusmore embankment 
made necessary — especially in view of the aspect of 
affairs in Afghanistan and the possible effects of the 
insidious advance of Russia. 

What he suggested was that to ensure safe com- 
munication with Sibi and Quetta a line should be made 
across the Indus from Mooltan to Dera Ghazee Khan, 
and should proceed thence parallel to the Indus, entirely 
beyond the reach of any possible consequences of a 
breach at Kusmore, along the safe side of the Cutchee 
Plain on the right bank down to Sibi and the foot 
of the passes opposite Sukkur. 

It was in May, 1877, that he submitted this report. 
It was a remarkable paper, and necessarily excited 
Lord Lytton's immediate attention, the more so 
that the anxiety about Cabul was increasing, and the 
outlook in the case of the Russians being success- 
ful in the war then going on with Turkey, by the 


capture of Kars or otherwise, might cause very 
serious complications and difficulties. 

The result of this report was that in June Browne 
was summoned to Simla, where he had hitherto 
usually felt himself out of touch, but where he now 
found his brother-in-law Pierson and his old comrade 
Blair. His report was quickly discussed and ap- 
proved ; and the Viceroy went farther, and, drawing 
away from railway and turning to frontier and political 
matters, held discussions with him on them almost 
daily, Browne living at Government House for a part 
of the time ; which all led to the engineer work, the 
subject of his report, being assigned to others to 
deal with, while Browne himself was posted instead 
to the Foreign Department, as a special officer on 
Lord Lytton's own staff, but detached temporarily as 
a political officer — to watch, and report to him direct 
on the wild tribes lining the Pesheen border ; 
especially one Pathan clan of primary local import- 
ance called the " Kakurs." He was, in Lord Lytton's 
own words, to " keep open the door of the Kakur 

While Browne was at Simla, there had been a 
fanatical episode at Quetta, where much engineer 
work had been going on. Some Ghazees had rushed 
through the works, and killed one officer and wounded 

This Kakur work, though it lay actually in Beloo- 
chistan, was so much on its northern frontier that 
Browne was brought into much closer contact with the 
Pathans there than with the Beloochees generally. 

Meanwhile, it may be observed, although it was 
in Central Asia that the proceedings of the Russians 
were causing anxiety and being watched in India, the 
incidents and possibilities of their war with Turkey 


were really of primary importance. Lord Salisbury 
was personally present at Constantinople, and taking 
part in the Conference there. The comparative gravity 
of the questions involved may be gathered from the 
fact that, in the face of all that was going on, the most 
prominent event that occurred was the Czar's assur- 
ance, on his honour, that he had no desire to acquire 

Having described Browne's own employment and 
career during the earlier part of his work in Beloo- 
chistan at this period, it is necessary, before we 
proceed farther with it, to refer to the measures and 
action of the Viceroy, Lord Lytton, the more especially 
that, as already noted, his rule was a very personal 
one and affected his officers very seriously, especially 
those who had been selected for duties in which he 
took any personal interest. 

It will be remembered that he had taken over the 
viceroyalty and at once proceeded to Simla in April, 
1876. His chief work in that year lay in connection 
with the Afghan question, and in efforts to induce 
the Ameer to have an English representative at his 
court — efforts which, it need hardly be said, failed 
entirely. But they were still going on when he 
visited Beloochistan before the end of the year, made 
a treaty with the Khan, and led him and his chiefs 
to attend at Delhi on the occasion, on the next New 
Year's day, of the fete in honour of the proclamation of 
Her Majesty as Empress of India. During the greater 
part of 1877 the Afghanistan question was still the 
all-important political topic ; but Lord Lytton, though 
he apparently thought otherwise, was not making any 
real way with it, the Ameer never seriously meaning 
business in the direction desired. Other very grave 
matters were also occupying him, such as the famine 


in Madras and Mysore and the dispatch of Indian 
troops to Malta, on the outbreak of war between 
Russia and Turkey. There were troubles also on 
the frontier, and the Jowaki tribes were being coerced. 

The only person besides himself whom he was 
allowing a potential voice in the conduct of affairs 
was Colonel Colley; and at this Jowaki business he, 
a novice, proposed to teach the experienced frontier 
officers the advantages, of which he held them 
ignorant, in the use of rifles, muskets, and so forth. 
He was not disabused of the true merits of the case 
till he proceeded to wander over the position and 
suddenly found himself face to face with a very 
large force of the hill men, who had long been 
quietly watching the British force (as its officers well 
knew), but hidden in the broken ground and rocks 
like Roderick Dhu's warriors. 

Lord Lytton had also been devising important, if 
not crucial, measures — useful, important, and easy 
enough after the long previous inertness of the 
Government. One of these was the formation into 
a new province, and the removal from the Punjab 
sphere, of all the British trans-Indus territory; and 
the charge of this was to have been assigned to 
General (as he was then, but now Field-Marshal Earl) 
Roberts. He was the Quartermaster-General of the 
army, and had drawn up a memorandum on frontier 
questions which had greatly attracted Lord Lytton. 
But events were then hurrying too fast to enable 
action to be taken on it, and the specific measure 
proposed — the formation of a Frontier Province — was 
postponed till Lord Curzon's rule. This was a matter 
in which Browne took the deepest interest, as will be 
seen from his paper on the subject, written not very 
long before his death. 


Some changes were meanwhile taking place or 
impending both in the official circles and on the 
Viceroy's staff, and the first change, though a very 
brief one, was Colley's visit to England. Then 
the Private Secretary was transferred to the India 
Office, to which too Sir Henry Norman was shortly 
posted as a member of the Council. He was a dis- 
sentient from most of Lord Lytton's views. 

In addition to the few changes that have been 
mentioned, it must be noted that there was almost a 
transformation scene in the Inner Council of the more 
important and trusted officers of Government — the 
most serious ones, especially in respect of the frontiers, 
being the prominent positions assigned to Sir Lewis 
Pelly and to Cavagnari, the former unknown except as a 
Bomba}' political officer, and the latter a very vigorous 
and energetic Punjab frontier officer with soldierly 
proclivities of the old Edwardes and Nicholson type. 
Except these and the few other favourites who enjoyed 
the viceregal confidence, all others were nowhere. 

Lord Lytton was now quite satisfied with the watch 
over the southern borders of Afghanistan ; but the 
dealings with the northern frontier and the threaten- 
ing aspect of the political outlook there were what 
was causing him anxiety. While he had been engaged 
with Afghanistan — that is, in efforts to come to terms 
with the Ameer — Russia had been making advances 
towards the same quarter, but with much greater 
success, and had also been repeating the old role 
of 1854 towards Turkey and the interests of England 
in that direction. She had declared war with Turkey, 
and had evidently been expecting a walk over ; but 
Plevna and the genius of the Turkish generals had 
been a lion in her path, and the strife was now ending, 
under Lord Salisbury's politic iflnuence in the treaty 


of San Stefano. Still the situation there, i.e. in 
the neighbourhood of Turkey, was one of great 
irritation, especially with the court of Russia. 

At the same time, as has been already pointed out, 
the Russian powers or ministers concerned directly 
with Turkey and those regions were not those 
that dealt with Afghanistan — viz. the Turkestan 
representatives of Russia ; who, in fact, acted perfectly 
independently, in accordance with the practice 1 Lord 
Palmerston showed to be habitual with them. 

During the period 1876-7, with which we have 
been dealing, the action of Russia had certainly been 
mainly in the direction of Turkey, as has been shown. 
But, though no very prominent or glaring steps 
had yet been taken on the north of Afghanistan, 
her movement there had been serious, though not 
easily recognisable. In fact, in that direction she 
had latterly been blundering to a certain extent, and 
leaving too large a gap between her two spheres of 
operation there, Krasnovodsk on the Caspian, and 
Khiva to the east. But Kaufmann had not been 
idle in respect of attention to Afghanistan and of 
measures to correct the situation — a situation which, 
in the meanwhile, was of momentous advantage to 
Lord Lytton in giving him breathing time for the 
necessary counteraction. For " Masterly Inactivity " 
would no longer answer. Quiet emissaries had 
already been beginning to appear at Cabul and 
pave the way for more overt diplomacy, insinuating 
that the attention of England was fully occupied 
in the Mediterranean, and that the Ameer was really 
free to enter on a specific and independent alliance 
with Russia, for which alliance, Kaufmann, the 
Governor-General of Turkestan, was, on his part, 
1 Described at page 135. 

1 1 


ready to take immediate steps. Suggestions were 
made of a formal alliance to be framed as between 
two potentates. The Ameer was cajoled in a ludi- 
crous manner, treated as a political and military 
equal, and encouraged to pose as the representative 
of Islam and to declare a jehad (religious war) 
against the English. But specifically hostile corre- 
spondence with England did not begin till the end 
of 1877, though the Ameer had already shown his 
temper by taking no notice of the Viceroy's invitation 
to the Empress Durbar of the previous January. He 
had become sufficiently arrogant — in contrast with his 
submissive attitude a few years before — to act as if 
he were the actual master of the situation, playing 
off Russia against England ; though in his heart 
he realised, and was annoyed at, the weapon against 
him which the Russians had at their command, in 
the presence with them of the rival claimant to the 
throne of Cabul — his brother Abdurrahman. 

In October, 1877, Browne started from Simla in 
his new position in the Foreign Department and on 
the personal staff of the Viceroy, for the exceptional 
political duty of watching the Afghan frontier where 
occupied by the Kakur Pathans. In accordance with 
the Viceroy's wishes, his first step was to equip himself 
thoroughly for the very special diplomacy and varied 
functions that he would have to carry out — the survey 
of the district, the watch over the proceedings on 
the frontier, the acquisition of personal influence with 
the tribesmen, and the enlisting of their good-will in 
favour of the British. 

To this end he first went to Roorkee, where he 
provided himself not only with all the astronomical 
and other instruments and appliances, the serious 
equipment needed for his surveys, but also with 


knicknacks, and cheap watches, and the like, turned out 
at the workshops there for presents to native gentry and 
others. Thence he turned his face towards the Kakur 
frontier, joined there about the end of the month, 
and never left it, except for Afghan territory, till 
the first part of the Afghan war was ended and he 
was no longer wanted for it. 

For this new and novel task of keeping open the 
door of the Kakur country no specific orders or in- 
structions were given to Browne, except that he was 
not to cross the frontier into it. But there was 
no doubt as to the results aimed at, and the under- 
standing that he was to effect them by his own wits. 
He was therefore given a free hand. 

His object, then, as already explained, was to be the 
acquisition of such influence with the Kakurs specially, 
and with the wild and independent tribes generally 
beyond our frontier in that direction, and the win- 
ning of such regard and confidence from them, that 
in the event of war or troubles with Afghanistan 
they would be friendly towards us, and at least 
refrain from siding against us or molesting us. He 
was to win the personal regard of their chiefs, so 
as to sway their action in the impending crisis; he 
was to effect this not only without crossing the 
frontier, but also without showing any desire to do 
so or to meddle with them. 

These Kakurs were not Beloochees, but Pathans, 
like the Afreedees and Ghilzyes with whom he had 
to do in his early days, very passionate and fanatical. 
From his special aptitude and his command of their 
language (Pushtoo) he had then won their confidence 
and acquired exceptional influence. He hoped to do the 
same now, adopting the same methods and bonhomie, 
the same frank and fearless heartiness, and making 


the most of his being the only British officer there 
who could speak their language. The clan was a very 
large and powerful one, much larger than the Afreedees 
— and this they had to be, to hold their own, for the 
Beloochee tribes in immediate contact with them, such 
as the Murrees and Bhoogtees, were also very large 
and powerful, and more brave and warlike. 

But his task lay not merely in connection with the 
Kakurs, but with the frontier and neighbouring dis- 
tricts generally, in getting all the information he 
could, and in the best ways he could, surveying, 
exploring, disguising himself if need be, and so forth ; 
and it was for these ends that he had been so careful 
before starting for the work to collect the needful 
instruments and articles for presents from Roorkee 
and elsewhere. Disguises were taken, in compliance 
with specific orders ; but he rarely, if ever, used them, 
and had no faith in them. 

To take up this appointment he travelled from 
Mooltan by Dera Ghazee Khan and Hurrund and 
the skirts of the Kakur country up to Dadur ; thence 
through the Bolan Pass to Quetta ; and finally re- 
turned to Dadur and took a brief run to Khelat, 
the capital. This gave him that further knowledge 
of the topography of the district which he felt to 
be essential for the work that was probably before 
him, in regard not merely to the Kakurs, but also 
to his relations with other tribes, and the probability 
of local disturbances and operations in the event of 
hostilities with Afghanistan. He had also, he felt, 
gained such insight as was necessary into local and 
secret politics and the causes of the outbreaks and 
feuds to which there seemed to be so great a tendency. 

A circumstance that at once pleased him greatly, 
and led him to hope that there might be plain sailing 


after all, was the kindly help and support he re- 
ceived from Colonel Sandeman, the G.G.A. (Governor- 
General's Agent). The two seemed to be in entire 
agreement ; and these cordial relations remained 
unabated throughout their residence in Beloochistan 
till Sandeman died there in harness in 1892, and, as 
will be seen, was succeeded by Browne. 

To turn now to the management of the Kakurs, 
the primary object of his mission. His method in 
dealing with them, as he was forbidden to cross the 
borders, was in the first place to avoid all obtrusive- 
ness, but in the next to allow them easy and free 
access to his own camp and tent, to establish such 
a camaraderie as they would understand, to entertain 
their chiefs whenever they appeared, and to avoid 
all outward precautions and signs of distrust. So 
they walked in and out as they pleased, exchanged 
pinches of snuff, and talked freely with him. Also, 
when carrying out work at Quetta and elsewhere, 
he was careful to attract these Kakurs to it, and 
pay them well ; and in general to establish pleasant 
and influential relations with them. In order to do 
all this steadily and effectively he had to live in 
camp on those borders for more than a year, which, 
needless to say, involved risk, exposure, and privation. 
There was but little of incident to record, but the result 
was entire success, as these two facts will indicate. 

(1) When war eventually broke out a year after- 
wards, instead of being the deadly enemies of the 
English as had been expected, the Kakurs never, 
throughout the whole campaign, fired a shot against 
the advancing troops, or annoyed them at all from 
Sibi to Khwaja Amran. 

(2) They, further, deliberately and strongly and 
of their own motion informed the Ameer that we had 


treated them so well that not a Kakur would join 
against us. 

Thus was accomplished the special task for which 
Browne had been deputed to this frontier, and, in 
addition, as he knew it to be desired, he had acquired 
such local knowledge, and shown such aptitude for 
dealing with these tribes and for the duties of a 
political officer, that Lord Lytton kept him there for 
employment in that capacity in case of the outbreak 
of war. 




A I J ITH the advance of time the political situation 

was now approaching a crisis, not on this 

southern frontier of Afghanistan, but in 
the north ; and, as will be shown, Lord Lytton was 
specially concerned therewith. But, on this south- 
ern frontier, Browne was now comparatively free 
from his original task of special attention to the 
Kakurs, and able consequently to devote himself more 
to the demands of the military situation, as connected 
with the political prospects ; and Lord Lytton fully 
continued his confidence and trust in him, in the some- 
what altered and more critical duties which he would 
have now to undertake — duties which would naturally 
include military and engineer work as well as 
political watch. This was in full conformity to what 
was going on at Simla and elsewhere. 

Colonel Sandeman was of course the chief political 
and administrative officer on the spot, and there were 
select military officers present for the conduct of the 
military preparations. But the real inquisition into 
the general preparations and arrangements needed 
was conducted at Simla. Sir Andrew Clarke had 

1 68 EVE OF THE AFGHAN WAR: 1877-8 

already been recently in the Beloochistan direction, 
and had taken the initiative in furthering ihe efficiency 
of the roads and railroads, to such an extent as was 
in his power, against the coming crisis. Lord Lytton, 
determined to have every assistance of value that he 
could command, and having already his recognised 
Council at hand, had further summoned to his Councils, 
from leave in England, Sir Richard Strachey, Sir 
John's brother, who had formerly been the head of 
the Public Works Department, and also, besides Sir 
Lewis Pelly already on the spot, Major St. John, 
who had more intimate knowledge than any one else 
of the country from Quetta to Candahar and onwards, 
and who, as will be seen presently, was to return 
to Quetta when the war broke out and to resume his 
political functions with the southern army there. 

It may be observed that while Browne had been 
watching the Kakurs in accordance with specific 
orders, in order to influence them for the crisis now 
impending, he had been extending that watch to other 
tribes in their neighbourhood, not only with the same 
object of friendliness, but in view of more practical 
ends, and had spent a couple of months in the district 
of the Murree tribes, during which he was quite 
alone. The general result of all this vigorous and 
judicious action was now beginning to develop when 
the crisis was about to arise. For he found himself 
able to arrange for the frontier engineering and 
preparations with a facility he had hardly dared to 
expect. This was to a large extent due to the presence 
in considerable numbers of some of his former gangers 
and workmen on the Peshawur frontier, chiefly 
tribesmen of the Ghilzye clan. These, a few at first, 
had gradually increased in numbers, so as to form a 
Coolie Corps, if not a sort of Pioneer Brigade. From 



their exceptional discipline, they could also be relied 
on not only for mere manual labour, but for postal 
and other auxiliary duties as well. They proved 
especially valuable in the Khojak Pass and other 
points in the subsequent march to Candahar and 
Khelat-i-Ghilzie. This advantage, however, was 
curiously supplemented by the " Mullah " idea derived 
from Browne's " double." While peace was not 
yet broken, the rumour, traced to the Ghilzyes, began 
to spread that Browne was not really a British 
officer at all, but an Afghan Mullah who was playing 
a part. It may be said at once that this rumour 
and conviction grew steadily and lasted, and was 
stronger than ever at the time of his death in 1896. 
But it was only now, in the course of Browne's 
presence and prominence near Quetta and the Kakur 
country, that the native rumours about his being a 
priest or Mahomedan in disguise began to be definitely 

Browne, it will be remembered, had not been on 
the Peshawur frontier or near Pathans or Ghilzyes 
since 1864; but on now appearing in the Cutchee Plain 
and the Pesheen and Kakur borders, his old familiarity 
with Pushtoo, the Pathan vernacular, had put him at 
once on an exceptionally cordial and intimate footing 
with the Ghilzyes and other Pathans from Afghanistan 
itself; and, as already noted, he almost immediately 
began to find himself looked at and regarded and 
treated in quite an exceptional manner — beingaddressed 
as a brother Mussulman and as a Mullah ; and his 
disavowals were replied to as a matter to be readily 
understood, and due to secret motives. 

There does not seem to be any reason for sup- 
posing that Browne either then or ever at any time 
realised the true facts of the case, though it is not 

i;o EVE OF THE AFGHAN WAR: 1877-8 

at all unlikely that he guessed at the possibility of 
there being a quasi-Mullah existing of English origin, 
possibly a child left behind in the former Afghan 
war, and now become a naturalised Afghan. He 
used sometimes to hint at the possibility of a Russian 


Later on, when the crisis in the Afghanistan direc- 
tion began to get more acute, preparatory measures 
were carried on with greater vigour. These were, 
of course, chiefly in the hands of the officers of the 
Engineer and Military Departments, but they were 
not sorry to have in the Political Department the 
assistance of so vigorous a colleague as Browne ; 
and so he was now working hard at clearing roads, 
improving defences, increasing the shelter for troops, 
and so on, and especially examining the ground where 
the advance and its flank would lie, and planning 
the necessary preparatory measures. 

It was while he was so engaged at Quetta itself, 
and busied with the strengthening of the Miri, as 
the Quetta fort is called, that his attention, and that 
of his companion Colonel Fellowes, were drawn to 
a seeming Afghan who was sitting resting on the road- 
side, but whose extraordinary resemblance to Browne 
struck them both suddenly and simultaneously, so as 
to cause a loud exclamation. 

This leads to the next phase of the story of the 
Mullah, " Ishmael Ali," the Englishman, whom we last 
left settled down to quiet family life at Mukkur, near 
Lake Abistade. His repose had not lasted long. 
After an interval events began to occur which recalled 
him to the Ameer's memory, so presently he was 
summoned to Cabul. The reason for this was that 
two Russian officers had recently arrived there, and 
the Ameer desired Ishmael to find out what they 



really wanted to do. But they seemed to be mere 
ordinary spies, without any more definite purposes 
or powers. The next occasion was later on in 1876, 
when the Ameer again summoned him to Cabul, but 
this time told him that troubles with the English 
were impending and that he wished him to go to 
Quetta and find out how the land lay there. He 
duly departed, and as he went onward he learned 
that the southern tribes, Ghilzyes and Kakurs, were 
irritated by some fresh imposts which the Ameer 
had levied on them. He felt and foresaw more and 
more difficulty as he got nearer the border. So he 
there buried his passport at a spot where he knew 
he could readily find it again, went on to Quetta 
and Shikarpore, and, after completing his inquiries, 
returned with his information to Cabul, laid it 
before the Ameer, and warned him strongly, it is 
believed, as to the real state of affairs and the dis- 
affection towards him. He was again sent to Quetta, 
more than once, it is thought, and on his last visit 
in 1878 saw and recognised Browne and with him 
another of his friends of former days, Major Fellowes. 
He was interrogated by them, but gave no practical 

He had been desired to stop and be interviewed ; 
but he had at once seen that the game was up, 
and had made up his mind to drop this career forth- 
with, as it could not be safely continued any longer. 
So he quietly and at once disappeared ; and instead 
of returning to Cabul, proceeded straight off to 
Sukkur, and thence to Kurrachee and Bombay, and 
was not again heard of. He sent no communication 
to his family or friends at Mukkur. His absence 
was such a common occurrence that it created no 
surprise, and at his home it was at once accounted 


for by the rumour that he had been seen at Quetta, 
posing as an English officer. This occurrence, the 
last visit of Ishmael Ali to Quetta, must have been 
about the time of Lord Lytton's mission to the 
Ameer, which was stopped at the entrance to the 

This closed our Mullah's actual career in the name 
and character, which he had adopted after the Umbeyla 
days, of Ishmael Ali — first a traveller, than a hafee, 
and finally the Mullah of Mukkur; while all the 
while an ex-British officer. But, far from the sup- 
posed Mullah losing his old position of sanctity and 
weight, it became more confirmed than ever in spirit, 
though changed in body. It happened in this wise. 
The Ghilzyes and others had probably been some- 
what tantalised occasionally, so long as it might be 
alleged that one Mullah was alive and well at Mukkur, 
and another, at the same time, about Quetta, but 
it does not appear that any one ever saw the Mullah 
at Mukkur after he thought he had seen him at Quetta. 
Now, however, after Ishmael Ali's departure from 
India there was no further doubt. The Mullah was 
no longer to be seen at Mukkur, while he seemed 
very prominent at Quetta. Hence was confirmed 
the reverence with which Browne was regarded by 
these devoted Ghilzyes and the immunity from Ghazee 
attacks which made him an exception among the 

Further, it will be presently seen that from the 
belief that he was their Mullah, the people of Mukkur 
and emissaries from the family there began to arrive 
in search of him, in order to ascertain what his 
plans and wishes really were ; and in fact they con- 
tinued to be in touch and to communicate with him 
throughout his career up to its very close. 


Again, while watching the Kakurs, Browne's in- 
fluence with the wild Pathan tribes in general was 
felt to be exceptionally great, and later on to be 
due in a measure to some special cause, such as the 
above rumour, besides his facility with their language, 
his knowledge of their ways and modes of thought, 
and his hearty and manly bonhomie. Latterly, as 
that rumour spread, and especially in the case of 
the Ghilzyes, their bearing to him had become so 
singular and marked and devoted in manner that 
it was quite certain that they were beginning to 
regard him as a mystery — to believe that he was 
playing a part, that he was not really a British officer, 
but a co-religionist, a Mullah from the north, an 
emissary in disguise and a leader to be implicitly 
obeyed. He had disparaged the Ameer to them, and 
in this they were quite ready to agree with him, 
for the Ameer had been coercing these southern 
clans, and especially the Ghilzyes, in regard to 
tributes and revenue. Latterly the rumour became 
quite specific, and was widely spread and looked on 
as a fact, that he had been identified as the Mullah 
who had recently frequented the Mukkur district near 
Lake Abistade, but had now disappeared from there ; 
who was a hajee, having performed the pilgrimage 
to Mecca, and was one of the holiest of holy men. 
All efforts to deny the soft impeachment were now 
futile. Their manner was, " We quite understand 
you. Play your part : command us : we obey you." 
And such was the situation when the Afghan war 

This story of Ishmael Ali as being Browne's double 
used for some time to be looked on as a fable, based 
on Browne's partiality to the Ghilzyes and his singular 
aptitude in regard to their language, songs, and 

174 EVE OF THE AFGHAN WAR: 1877-8 

customs. But it was fully corroborated by Browne's 
own narration of the circumstances connected with it. 

Meanwhile, it must not be supposed that this 
chance incident of the great likeness between Browne 
and the Mullah of Mukkur is not perfectly apart 
from the notable influence which he exercised over 
the Ghilzye and other Pathan and Afreedee tribes 
from the first days of his frontier work in i860. 
This affair was additional and of much later date. 
His habits and camaraderie and influence with them 
in those early days, sixteen years before his Kakur 
work and the Mullah story, have been already 
described, and a few more traits may be added. 
The wildest, most cut-throat-looking creatures would 
follow him like a dog for years seeking employment. 
One of them protected his eldest son in an occasion 
of danger, and in no instance was it ever known that 
his trust in them was betrayed. All this is quite 
apart from the Mullah case. 

The first instance of the identity being asserted 
occurred shortly after Ishmael Ali's disappearance, 
when some ten Ghilzye head-men, with followers, 
came into Quetta, seeking for help against the Ameer. 
They were men from Mukkur and Lake Abistade, 
Ishmael Ali's home, and they all proceeded forthwith 
to claim Browne's acquaintance as a neighbour and 
a Mahomedan. His denial of it they treated as a 
joke, and quite to be understood ; and he raised no 
objection, as their recognition, though mistaken, 
might be of use. 

The most important of these chiefs was one Adam 
Khan. He was very ill, and died in three or four 
days, but very suddenly, of fever ; and his followers 
at once interviewed Browne, and asked him to perform 
a special burial service for the old man, with certain 



rites called the Namaz Jenaza, for which they select 
the holiest priest they can get hold of. To this 
application, however, Browne gave an explicit refusal, 
but apparently in such a manner as served only to 
confirm their impression. 

So far Browne's own proceedings and the Mullah 
episode so strangely involved with his career have 
been related ; but the immediate future was so 
completely dependent on other public occurrences— 
on our own north-west frontier in Afghanistan, in 
Turkestan, in Russia, and in Eastern Europe — and 
Browne was watching them so eagerly and sedulously, 
that these must now be dealt with, but as briefly 
as possible. The proceedings of Russia must first 
be described — proceedings which, as before ex- 
plained, were in two spheres, apparently independent 
of each other, but, in fact, so intimately connected 
as to be practically one operation. While the Czar 
and his own court were playing one game in Europe, 
and especially in Turkey, Kaufmann and his officers 
were stirring up Afghanistan and Turkestan ; and 
the astute Skobeleff was guiding in both those 

In the west, as has already been shown, Russia 
had been engaged in war with Turkey, but the 
treaty of San Stefano, on March 3rd, 1877, had ended 
it ; while, on the other hand, this had left her relations 
with England more strained than ever, especially as 
Indian troops were being collected at Malta. In 
that direction, however, nothing hostile of any im- 
portance occurred, though much that may be described 
as " snarling " went on till the Berlin Conference was 
concluded by the treaty of 1878. 

In the east, on the other hand, much aggressive 
action of importance was occurring. A document, 

1 76 EVE OF THE AFGHAN WAR: 1877-8 

of the greatest gravity, which had been prepared 
the previous year now saw the light — a scheme, 
drawn up by Skobeleff, for an invasion of India 
from the north. This scheme is more fully shown 
in the work noted below, 1 but its salient points 
were these : It was based on the view that all India 
was hostile to the English rule, that the approach 
of an enemy to the frontier in any serious strength 
would certainly lead to a general rebellion, and that 
the large army of Turkestan, freed from hostilities 
there, swelled by the innumerable horsemen of 
Central Asia, and co-operating with the Afghans, 
would join the Indian rebels, wipe out the English, 
and repeat the old histories of the acquisition of 

In full accordance with this scheme, but apparently 
quite independently of it, Kaufmann continued his 
preparations and movements towards Afghanistan, the 
initial steps of which have been already mentioned. 
He had cajoled the Ameer into the idea of an 
alliance, and had now begun to dispatch to him 
StoletofT and other emissaries with powers to con- 
clude negotiations with him on such points as these : 

The location of Russian agents at Cabul. 

The location of Russian troops on the Afghan 

The construction of roads to Cabul, Herat, and 
Candahar, and of corresponding lines of telegraph. 

The free passage of Russian troops through 
Afghanistan and assistance to them in the matter of 
food and transport. 

At the same time, through Stoletoffs agency, 
another agent, named Pashino, was sent to India itself 
to sow the seeds of rebellion ; but he was caught 

1 Russia's March towards India. By an Indian Officer. Vol. TI. 



at Peshawur, sent down country, and deported 
to Russia. 

The further story is too well known to need 
repetition — how the Ameer ostentatiously made much 
of Kaufmann's emissaries till news arrived of the 
Berlin treaty, when they bade their adieux and 
returned to Turkestan before the end of the year, 
leaving their deluded victim in the lurch to face by 
himself the English enemy whom they had led him 
to challenge. 

Further, while they had been taking time by the 
forelock, and placing a petard, so to speak, at our 
very gate, to enforce an opening, they had been 
active in larger and more widespread preparations. 
An order had been issued for the organisation of 
three columns for the invasion of India from Central 
Asia, from Samarkand, Margelan, and Petro-Alex- 
androvosk as starting points. But before the pro- 
jected movements were begun, the Berlin treaty 
came in the way and stopped the whole business. 

It may here be pointed out as a corollary to Lord 
Palmerston's account of Russian practice that the 
officers of the Czar were in a very happy position 
— they had simply to carry out orders, were not 
troubled by scruples of conscience as to the means 
by which success was achieved, were glorified by 
any success, and if they had carried out orders 
were not set aside on failure — a contrast to the fate 
of most English officers, who under similar circum- 
stances would generally have to retire into quiet 

The Ameer Shere Ali was, of course, the prominent 
figure — may he not be called the victim ? — of the 
embroglio— -the victim, that is, of Russian aggressive- 
ness and of our vacillating policy. There could 


178 EVE OF THE AFGHAN WAR: 1877-8 

not be a heartier ally than he had been to us in 
Lord Mayo's days, but with our changed demeanour 
and aloofness during Lord Northbrook's regime on 
the one hand, combined with Russia's ostentatious 
friendliness and temptations on the other, his fears 
got the better of him, and he turned from cold, un- 
sympathetic England to the blandishments of the wily 
tricksters of Russia. 

By the time of Lord Lytton's arrival he had really 
cast in his lot in the other direction, and had become 
quite impracticable. The new Viceroy soon saw this, 
and, as has been shown, made his preparations for 
the eventualities he foresaw, while omitting no 
reasonable effort to bring the Ameer into a proper 

At the same time, this much must, in justice, be 
said for the Ameer — he was at one alike with 
his predecessors and with his eventual successors 
in insisting on the inadvisability and danger of a 
British representative, resident at Cabul ; for whose 
safety he felt he would be responsible, as was soon 
proved by the case of the ill-fated Cavagnari. 

His admitting Stoletoff to Cabul is quite another 
matter. He recognised that he would never be 
responsible for his safety as he would have to be 
for that of the British Resident — and there was an 
absurd contrast in their demeanour between the two 
powers with whom he had to deal. 

Unfortunately, at this juncture, in August, the 
Ameer lost his favourite son, the young Abdulla 
Jan, and, on the ground of the gravity of the blow, 
he declined to receive any deputations or to deal 
with any important business, though he practically 
showed the falsity of this attitude by continuing his 
interviews with the Russian delegates who were 


still at Cabul. The denouement is well known. 
The British mission duly reached Peshawur ; but 
on moving forwards towards Cabul was at Jumrood 
refused admittance to the Khyber Pass — and the 
Afghan war ensued in November, after every reason- 
able effort had been made to avoid or avert it. 

It may be added that, whilst settling on the 
immediate advance to Ali Musjid and the Khyber on 
the north, Lord Lytton wrote to Quetta suggesting the 
sending of Browne thence to the Ghilzye country, 
supported by the clansmen already at Quetta, in 
order to arrange about utilising the clan in British 
interests. On this point, any movement of Browne 
personally into the Ghilzye (Afghan) country was 
not possible, and could not be contemplated. But 
what Browne did was to collect and keep under his 
eye large bodies of that clan as personal followers, 
emissaries for information, and quasi-companies of 
Pioneers for military labour; and most valuable they 
proved in the impending operations. 

To turn now to Lord Lytton. As matters stood, 
it was hopeless for him to bring about those relations 
at Cabul which had been one of the main features 
of the special aim or mission for which he had been 
appointed to India. It did not affect Browne's career 
that there were fluctuations or changes in the steps 
by which the Viceroy tried to effect that mission ; 
but, of course, he was watching those steps with 
the keenest zest, in charge as he was of the sister 
steps, to the same end, on the southern frontier. 

On hearing of the Ameer's reception of Stoletoff, 
Lord Lytton had determined to send to him a British 
mission, first intimating to him its special object — a 
treaty to be entered into that should put the mutual 
relations on a sound footing, on three important 

1 80 EVE OF THE AFGHAN WAR: 1877-8 

points. This mission he arranged to place under 
the leading of Sir Neville Chamberlain, whom he 
knew to be a persona grata to the Ameer. And the 
home Government fully approved of these measures. 

This mission duly proceeded to Peshawur, arrived 
there on September 12th, and then halted till the 
arrangements for its farther advance should be 
completed. The local Afghan commander notified 
that he could not allow any advance without the 
Ameer's specific sanction, and after much delay none 
was ever received at all ; but in the meanwhile 
Chamberlain and Cavagnari continued negotiations 
with the quasi-independent tribes that occupied the 
Khyber Pass. At this stage, the Viceroy too still 
seemed to receive no practical answers from the 
Ameer, who, on the other hand, was steadily occupying 
or strengthening his own positions in the Pass, and 
had at length punished some of the Khyberee chiefs 
for communicating with the English. 

Unfortunately the home Government did not give 
Lord Lytton a free hand, but shilly-shallied; which 
strengthened the Ameer's attitude. But at length 
the Viceroy was allowed to act ; whereupon he with- 
drew the mission forthwith, and on November 2nd 
w T rote in stern and clear language to the Ameer. 
His letter was an ultimatum ; and in a few days he 
received from England specific permission to invade 
Afghanistan on November 21st, if a satisfactory 
answer had not then been received. 

On receipt of this sanction Lord Lytton at once 
began to take preliminary measures for the operations 
that would probably be advisable in the event of 
war ; and these measures were, of course, keenly 
watched by Browne, though they affected himself only 
partially on that southern district. 


For the operations were to be in three lines — two 
in the north towards Cabul, and the third in the south 
towards Candahar, which alone directly concerned 
Browne. The two in the north were to be one 
from Peshaw r ur under Sir Samuel Browne, through 
the Khyber and Jellalabad, and the other from the 
Kurum Valley under General Roberts, through the 
Shuturgurdun route, having first to seize and 
dominate the Khost country. The Candahar column 
was to be eventually under Sir Donald Stewart, 
but, until his arrival from England, under General 



start of the afghan war — browne with sir donald 
Stewart's force — entry into candahar — khelat- 
i-ghilzie and girishk — stewart's memorandum on 
the strategical and political value of candahar 
— thul chotiali expedition. 

Hp HE preceding chapter saw three columns under 

X preparation for a simultaneous advance into 
Afghanistan — from Peshawur, from the Kurum 
Valley, and from Quetta respectively. 

Browne was, of course, to be with the Quetta 
force, and his functions were to be numerous and 
not restricted to the customary post of engineer. He 
was to retain his position as member of the Viceroy's 
personal staff and of the Foreign and Political 
Department. And, as directly enjoined by Lord 
Lytton, he was to aim at authority and leadership 
with the tribesmen of the great Ghilzye clan. This 
charge was all the more prominent that Browne's 
success in his political mission to the Kakurs was 
now bearing fruit. There was no delay on the 
part of that clan in announcing to the Ameer that 
they would not join him in any hostilities with 
the English ; and so marked was their attitude 
that Major Sandeman, the Governor-General's Agent, 
organised a body-guard of those clansmen as his 
personal escort. 



It will be easily understood that at this period, 
when the war was about to begin, there was absolute 
uncertainty as to what would occur, even at the 
very first. The Ameer had his troops all as ready as 
he could have them at the three points we menaced — 
at the mouth of the Khyber about Ali Musjid, at the 
Peiwar Kotul and the passes in the Kurum range, 
and at Candahar and the Khojak and Khwaja hills 
opposite Quetta. The Russian emissaries too — i.e. 
Kaufmann's — were still with him as if in his support, 
though their chief Stoletoff had left for, avowedly, 
only a brief absence. 

All this Russian attitude, however, be it remembered, 
was sheer trickery ; and no ally was more deliberately 
and wantonly deserted, betrayed, and left in the lurch 
than the unfortunate Ameer ; for the treaty of Berlin 
had long been signed, as the Russians knew, though 
not the Ameer — and the Russian Government itself 
even before that epoch had not only withdrawn 
from any hostile attitude towards England, but had 
entered into a direct but secret treaty with us for 
unity of action. So now, but not until the Ameer 
was fully committed to war, did the Russian 
emissaries withdraw and leave him to face us single- 
handed. The Russians at Cabul had known of the 
treaty in ample time to guide the Ameer, had they 
desired to do so, into a proper attitude towards 
England ; but obviously the Turkestan party were 
bent on bringing on a war between England and 

It has been mentioned that the plan prescribed for 
this invasion was the simultaneous crossing of the 
frontier by three columns, but a glance at the map 
will show the difference in the distances that these 
columns would have to march, to reach the three 

1 84 THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 

points of advance assigned to them — the Khyber, the 
Kurum, and Pesheen in front of Quetta. Hence it 
arose that, in order to carry out the proper concert 
in dates, General Biddulph had to start the advance 
or movement from Quetta before the arrival of the 
proper commander, Sir Donald Stewart, and of the 
second division of the force. That column naturally 
suffered severely from the great distance of its seat 
of operations from its real base at Mooltan, where 
the depots were formed for the troops and munitions 
of war and special supplies ; and, further, that very 
much greater distance, combined with the rough and 
bare character of the country, tended to make the 
matter of carriage and transport exceptionally serious. 

But now, in accordance with the plan that the 
advance of the three forces into Afghanistan should 
be all made simultaneously on November 21st, the 
invasion from Peshawur into the Khyber was carried 
out under Sir Samuel Browne (no relation, though a 
namesake of Buster), that into the Kurum under 
General Roberts, and that from Quetta into Pesheen 
by Biddulph's force. And to this party Browne was 
at first attached, but afterwards to Sir Donald's 
whole force. 

It is not necessary to describe in detail the northern 
operations of the war, for our Browne — Buster Browne 
— was not concerned with them ; but we do so 
briefly. General Samuel Browne's force attacked and 
captured Ali Musjid on November 21st, and forth- 
with occupied the Khyber and other passes en route — 
thence to Jellalabad. And Roberts on the same date 
entered and occupied the Khost district ; then attacked 
and captured the Peiwar Kotul position on December 
2nd, and on the 8th seized the Shuturgurdun and 
neighbouring heights, whence he could see the sur- 


roundings of Cabul, but where his first operations 
were to clear and obtain effective control over the 
immediate neighbourhood. 

But the task before Stewart and Biddulph's force 
was to make a long march, through barren and 
mountainous districts and the Khojak and other diffi- 
cult passes, to Candahar; and there, whatever else 
they might do, command the junction of the routes 
north-east to Cabul and. north-west to Herat, so as 
to intercept any support that the Ameer might have 
thought of obtaining from outside his north-west 
frontiers. But the Ameer did not wait for the full de- 
velopment of the war, knowing well what its course 
would now be ; and forthwith, after the Ali Musjid 
business, he appointed his son, Yakoob Khan, his 
Regent, and left the country by the mountain tracks 
for Turkestan with the avowed object of seeking the 
support of Russia. Henceforward, the Ameer Shere 
Ali disappears from this story. 

On the stoppage of Chamberlain's mission at the 
mouth of the Khyber, Major St. John had returned 
to his former position, in political charge of the line 
from Quetta to Candahar and the south-west border 
of Afghanistan, and Browne was formally appointed 
Intelligence Officer to General Biddulph, in addition 
to the other posts and to carrying out the several other 
duties that have been described. The Viceroy's 
specific proposal, already mentioned, that Browne 
should deal with the Ghilzyes, shows conclusively how 
fully and pertinently Lord Lytton understood his 
special authority and influence with the clan ; but 
it must be remarked that he cannot have realised the 
grounds on which that power was based. 

It was on November 9th that General Biddulph, 
with a portion, some 6,400 men and 16 guns, of the 

1 86 THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 

Candahar Field Force, reached Quetta, and afterwards 
pushed on to Pesheen. Then, after some days, Sir 
Donald Stewart reached Dadur en route from Mooltan 
to Quetta. He had been on furlough, and had now 
come out hurriedly. He had first gone to Simla for 
some special information and arrangements, and now, 
on reaching Dadur in the Belooch Plain, overtook 
the second column of his force in somewhat serious 
difficulties, owing to the supplies collected there for 
both of his columns having been all used up by the 
first column of it under Biddulph. 

In this district the first steps in the contest with 
the Ameer's followers had been taken, it may be here 
explained, before either of the generals had arrived. 
Some Afghan emissaries, supported of course by an 
armed following, had come to the village of Haramzye 
about fourteen miles from Quetta, and were there 
intriguing and stirring up mischief. Sandeman, on 
hearing of this, and ascertaining by a personal visit 
how the land lay, arranged for action. A force, con- 
sisting of an infantry regiment, a troop of cavalry, 
and two mountain guns, accompanied by Browne, 
proceeded under Sandeman's guidance to the village. 
They reached it shortly before daybreak, carefully 
and quietly surrounded it, and then, with a shout from 
the whole party, from all sides rushed inwards on 
its centre, paralysed the malcontents, and seized, hand- 
cuffed, and carried off the Ameer's emissary. This 
feat settled and quieted the whole neighbourhood, 
and paved the way for Biddulph's operations. The 
villagers and Syuds of Haramzye, the site of the 
story, turned into staunch friends, and rendered good 
service to the British. 

On Biddulph's approach — in fact, on knowing of 
the imminence of an impending war — Sandeman had 


begun to lay in supplies along his proposed route ; 
and then Biddulph himself reached Quetta on November 
9th with seven battalions of infantry, three regiments 
of cavalry, and three batteries, one field and two 
mountain, and found Browne hard at work fortifying 
the Miri, as the fort at Quetta is called. On the 13th, 
four days afterwards, Biddulph received orders to 
prepare for an advance, and during the course of 
the week reconnoitred the whole of the frontier 
line, which, as yet, he was not empowered to cross. 
Browne found his brother officers Bisset and Nichol- 
son 1 on Biddulph's staff. With Nicholson he was 
much associated afterwards, as they were together 
first on Biddulph's staff in his march through Thul 
Chotiali, then on Macpherson's staff in Egypt, and 
later on, on Lord Roberts's staff when he was Com- 
mander-in-chief in India. 

Though Sir Donald Stewart had not yet arrived, 
Biddulph was now beginning to advance ; and, after 
the reconnaissance of November 22nd, crossed the 
border into Pesheen next day simultaneously with the 
movement of the two northern columns. He then 
moved on carefully to Hykulzye and to other points 
from which to start work at the two passes in the 
Khwaja Amran range, the Gwaja and the Khojak; 
of which two the Khojak fell specially- to Browne's lot, 
and there he set his Ghilzyes to help. 

Meanwhile General Stewart arrived, and collected 
his whole force — one rear division, called the first, he 
commanded personally ; the other, the leading division, 
called the second, remained ahead under Biddulph. 

By dint of hard and judicious and well-organised 
labour, and fortunately without any molestation to 
speak of from the enemy, the road through each of the 
1 Now Sir W. G. Nicholson. 

1 88 THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 

passes referred to was constructed, fit for the passage 
of all traffic. The charge of the construction lay in the 
hands of Colonel Sankey and the Engineers under 
him. But Browne helped him with his Ghilzyes, 
and was further useful in getting in supplies through 
them, and in surveying and mapping the sites of 
various peaks and other features of the country ; which 
was very helpful to the reconnoitring officers. The 
two roads when completed were each thirteen feet 
wide, with a maximum gradient of one in ten, and 
by them now went the first trains of wheeled vehicles 
that had ever reached Khorasan from India. 

The main difficulty on the route to Candahar lay in 
the obstruction of the Khwaja Amran mountain range 
which lay across the whole of the plateau that would 
have to be traversed. There were but two passes in 
it — those that have been referred to as the Khojak 
and the Gwaja — the routes to them being by Hykulzye 
and Gulistan Karez respectively, and there being no 
other or more direct communication between them 
than by those two points at their respective heads. 
They were themselves impassable except to mules, 
donkeys, and men on foot. The whole country was 
barren and devoid of supplies, and to a great extent 
of water ; the people were wild and bigoted ; and 
one large clan, the Achukzyes, had avowed their 
hostile intentions on any suitable opportunity arising. 

On the other hand, the Ghilzye clan, the largest 
of all, were always en evidence, and announced their 
intention to follow Browne's leading on all occasions. 
He was now at the very height of his influence with 
them, and was forming them into auxiliary bodies 
for practical purposes, such as trained working gangs 
of all sorts — postmen, guides, messengers, collectors 
of supplies, and so forth. The Kakurs too were 


helpful ; and personally he was absolutely sure of 
freedom from any risks from fanatics or others. 

Between the two parallel passes, as has been noted, 
there was no communication except by the posts 
above them ; but there was no enemy there now, 
and no other obstruction. The passage of them by 
the troops occupied from the 19th to the end of 
December, General Stewart's orders being that the 
first division should march through the Gwaja Pass, 
the second simultaneously through the Khojak, and 
that the whole should then concentrate at Tukht-i-pul. 
Each of the divisions, on reaching the plains, and while 
en route to Tukht-i-pul, encountered small bodies of 
the enemy's cavalry, and driving them inwards, 
brought them into a position where Brigadier Luck 
was able to attack and disperse them. The two 
bodies of British cavalry who were separately 
pursuing the enemy came in sight of each other, 
without either of them at first recognising the other 
to be friends, and not foes ; the result being a volley 
from one of them which sent a bullet through Browne's 
helmet ! This seems to have been the only bit of 
fighting seen before the force reached Candahar ; and 
it did not promise much as to any really steady re- 
sistance. Further, the news now arrived that the 
Afghans' commander and troops at Candahar had 
evacuated the place and fled. Hence on January 8th 
Sir Donald Stewart was able to make a peaceful and 
triumphant march of ceremony through that city ; after 
which the camp of the force was formed outside it on 
the Ghuznee side, and enjoyed a few days' repose. 

The strategical value of the Candahar position has 
been already explained, and as Afghan troops were 
occupying Herat in one direction and Khelat-i-Ghilzie 
in the other, on the way to Cabul, General Stewart 

190 THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 

had now to act in both these directions. So pulling 
his force together, and taking advantage of the ap- 
proach of a division of Bombay troops, for the 
garrisoning of Candahar, he began his advances on 
the 15th, after a week's halt. He sent Biddulph with 
one division towards Girishk on the Helmund, on 
the road to Herat, while he led another himself to- 
wards Khelat-i-Ghilzie. He took Browne with him as 
his political officer, and sent St. John with Biddulph. 

As Browne accompanied Stewart's column, its in- 
cidents will be first described ; the more especially 
since the events of this march were very exceptional 
in respect of the results of Browne's presence, and 
the special influence he exercised over the Ghilzyes. 

The column, having started on the 15th, came to 
its camping-ground, a march short of Khelat-i-Ghilzie, 
on the morning of January 21st. There the force 
was to halt for the day, and prepare for the advance 
next day against the fortress. 

Browne, however, when reconnoitring ahead and 
scouting about with his escort and his Ghilzye 
followers, found a considerable party of those tribes- 
men there in a somewhat excited state, who pro- 
ceeded to tell him that the commander and garrison 
of Khelat-i-Ghilzie — having heard of his approach, 
and believing him to be the Mullah, anxious to 
occupy the fort with the force to which, for what- 
ever reason, he had attached himself — were already 
taking steps to evacuate it the next night. That 
garrison, they added, though more than a thousand 
strong, would not oppose him, and were ready to yield 
it to him personally. He had only to ride on, and 
take possession. 

Browne, without more ado, started off at once 
towards the fort with only his personal escort of 



eighteen Sowars, and as he approached it he saw 
to his delight that a part of the garrison was al- 
ready in full retreat, whilst others were lining the 
ramparts and gates in an undecided manner. So, 
within a short distance of it, he sent forward one 
of his party with orders to the commandant to 
surrender himself and the fort at once under the 
alternative of being blown to pieces by the army 
which was coming on behind. The commandant 
seemed to hesitate for a few moments, but at last 
came out, on which Browne placed two of his men 
with lances behind him, giving orders to run him 
through on the first sign of treachery; and then, 
going straight into the fort with the rest of his 
men, he turned out all the remainder of the garrison, 
and placing sentries on the gate and elsewhere, took 
formal possession of the fortress. After which, 
leaving the bulk of his party there, on guard over 
the guns and the locked gates, he returned without 
further delay to the camp and reported his proceedings 
to the general, who, he added, had only to march on 
at once and take possession forthwith. A cavalry 
reconnaissance he heard had been ordered ; but none, 
he said, was really needed. 

The audacity of this act was splendid, for he had 
not yet dreamt of its connection with his singular 
relations to the Ghilzyes. Its importance was obvious, 
but beyond holding the place for a month, no further 
forward movement or other step was taken; and all 
Browne's hopes of its leading at once to a further 
advance towards Cabul came to nothing. 

It need hardly be said that Browne, though per- 
fectly ready and glad to seize the opportunity thus 
offered, had remained silent on the popular illusions 
about himself, feeling perfectly certain that they 

192 THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 

would soon be exploded and cleared up, and that 
the General, if he knew of them at all, would 
laugh at them. At any rate, Stewart took no 
other view of Browne's influence than that he was 
another John Nicholson, with a special power over 
these wild clansmen, of which power it was ex- 
pedient to take all possible advantage. It will be 
seen that in later days he continued to recognise 
this influence of Browne's, and was instrumental 
in helping him to positions, as in the Hurnai work, 
where he could give it full scope and play. Eventu- 
ally, by the end of February, Browne was on his 
way back to Candahar, where the whole force again 
concentrated. His peculiar influence meanwhile con- 
tinued, and during all the time the force remained at 
Khelat it was never molested nor were there ever 
any attempts at murders or fanatical attacks, while, 
when they got back to Candahar, they found that the 
troops there, though reinforced from Bombay, were in 
a constant state of fidget and under fire all night. 

There is no doubt that the facts and incidents of 
the operations of Stewart's force, as there had been 
so little fighting, were not so striking and interesting 
to the public as those of the Peshawur and Kurum 
columns ; and Browne's disappointment at not ad- 
vancing farther was great. But Candahar itself was 
the key of Stewart's position, and its distance, and 
even that of Quetta, from British India was incom- 
parably greater than that of the positions reached by 
the other two forces. So that, while the operations of 
the latter, including those in the Kurum country and 
the Peiwar Kotul fight, and the seizure of the Shutur- 
gurdun Pass, had practically ended by the first week 
of December 1878, it was only then that Stewart 
had been able to begin work at all, and arrange to 


cross the border from Quetta towards the Khojak 
Pass and Candahar. When he began that advance, 
Shere Ali had already fled into Turkestan with the 
avowed intention of suing for the intervention and 
support of Russia ; and Sir Donald's retirement from 
Khelat-i-Ghilzie was simultaneous with the news 
of the death of Shere Ali and of Yakoob Khan's 
formal succession and immediate efforts to arrange 
for terms of peace. 

But this withdrawal from Khelat-i-Ghilzie, whatever 
its cause, being in time of war, although no actual 
fighting occurred, suffered from the usual unpleasant 
concomitants of all withdrawals or retreats, and 
greatly harassed the work of the staff, especially 
of the supply officers ; and Browne suffered much 
from its inconvenience. An imaginary incident in 
the negotiations during this withdrawal may be 
described as between S., a supply officer, and N., a 
native merchant, who had hitherto during the advance 
helped him freely about supplies, etc. 

1. S. now, from a camp on the return march, sends 
to N. as before for supplies. 

2. N. reports himself sick, and unable to help 

3. S. sends peremptory and threatening orders, 
backed by a few troopers. 

4. N. accompanies the party back, with streams of 
pack animals, etc. 

5. S. reproves him severely for his reply. 

6. N. deprecates his wrath, and asserts the im- 
possibility of his supplying him except on receiving 
very stern orders as in No. 3. 

7. S. repudiates the excuse, as such orders had never 
been needed before. 

8. N. admits this, but says that now he, N., would, 


THE AFGHAN WAR : 1878-9 

alas ! have to satisfy the Ameer's agents, and he really 
needed something more imperative and savage than 
such threats as in item 3. 

9. S. " Then write out such a letter from me to you 
as you want me to sign." 

10. N. drafts a gem, teeming with abuse and 
blood-curdling horrors — threatening the entire male 
population with impalement and other punishments. 

11. S. signs it, and comments thus: "I wonder 
whether in years to come this precious document 
will ever come to light and I be handed down to 
posterity as a second Nero ? It is, I fear, quite 
likely. We are certain to re-enter Afghanistan 
some day. As sure as we do, N.'s descendants will 
produce my 1 Indent for supplies ' as a testimonial 
to the good services performed by their ancestor 
in former years. The budding political to whom 
it will be shown will be horrified at its ingenious 
brutality, and, at the dinner-table, will be outspoken 
in his righteous indignation against the political 
methods of former days. The story will spread, 
and some war correspondent with a thirst for horrors 
will pounce on the precious morsel, wire an em- 
bellished version to his paper — yes, and no doubt in 
the end I shall be held up to opprobrium on the 
platform of Exeter Hall, and pilloried as a monster 
in human shape and a true type of the Indian official." 

Such were Browne's experiences of the Afghan 

Meanwhile, during Stewart's and Browne's absence 
at Khelat-i-Ghilzie, Biddulph's columns on the Helmund, 
towards Herat, had been having an interesting ex- 

On January 16th, the day after General Stewart 
had begun the movement towards Khelat-i-Ghilzie, 


Biddulph's force started from Candahar to Girishk, 
on the Helmund, and arrived there at the end of 
the month. The party remained there exploring and 
surveying and gathering information till February 
23rd, when it began to return. On the 26th the rear 
guard was attacked by a party of Alizyes, whom it 
defeated and punished severely, but with the loss of 
one officer. The whole country affecting the route 
from Candahar to Girishk was thoroughly surveyed, 
and General Biddulph sent a very full and able 
report on its strategical features and considerations. 1 

General Biddulph was now free for the exploring 
expedition, of which he had received notice, and in 
which he was to be aided by Browne and Nicholson, 
through the hitherto unseen and unknown Thul 
Chotiali district between Quetta and the Derajat. But 
before proceeding to the narrative of these opera- 
tions, we may close the present portion of the subject 
by citing the memorandum on the Candahar question 
drawn up by General Stewart. 

" Covering as it does the roads from Eastern Persia 
and Herat, as well as that from Cabul and Ghuznee, 
Candahar is, no doubt, a position of much importance. 
The features of the country in the immediate vicinity 
of the city are favourable for defence, but its occupation 
by us would entail the establishment of strong posts 
on the Helmund and at Khelat-i-Ghilzie at least, 
bringing the intervening districts under our control. 

"Assuming, however, the retention of the country 
embraced within the limits here indicated, we do not 
thereby obtain a satisfactory frontier, because it would 
be impossible to guard such a long and exposed line 
without a series of military or police posts as connect- 
ing links. 

" While recognising the strategical importance of 

1 This report and a full account of General Biddulph's march will 
be found in Vol. XXIV. No. CVII of the Journal for 1880 of the 
R.U.S. Institution. 

196 THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 

Candahar, its occupation now would, in my opinion, 
be a mistake, even from a military point of view, 
seeing we could at any moment lay hands on it from 
our base in Pesheen. 

" I am aware that military critics of high authority 
consider the retention of Candahar to be essential 
to the security of our frontier, on the ground, 
apparently, that the Afghans might some day construct 
works at that place which would neutralise the 
advantages which our proximity to it would give us. 

" This is, no doubt, a possible contingency, but it does 
not counterbalance the immediate and very patent 
disadvantage of a premature occupation ; and our 
engagements with the Afghan state will be on a very 
unsatisfactory footing if they do not make due pro- 
vision to meet contingencies of this character. As 
a purely military question, therefore, the possession 
of Candahar would in my judgment place us in a 
false position, and in point of fact be a source of 
great disadvantage to us. 

" The political objections to the retention of Candahar 
in opposition to the wishes of the Afghans seem to 
me to be very strong. 

" For many years our policy in India has ceased to 
be an aggressive one, and this policy has been avowed 
in the utterances of the Government during the 
present war. It follows, therefore, that on principle 
we ought not to annex a rood of land that is not 
really essential to the security of our frontiers ; to 
do otherwise would be to discredit us in the estimation 
of the world. 

" It has been suggested that we might hold Candahar 
by an amicable agreement with the Afghan Govern- 
ment, and if this could be arranged, it would be un- 
objectionable, but I am inclined to think this is the 
last thing the Afghans would be disposed to accede to. 

" Though the people of this province profess to be 
tired of the Barakzye rule, it must not be assumed 
that they are prepared to receive us with favour. 
So far as I am in a position to judge, they detest 
us cordially ; and I am under the impression that 
our immunity from anything like organised opposition 
is largely due to the fact that our dealings with the 
people are taken as an indication that our occupation 
is a temporary one only. 



" As regards the unpopularity of the Barakzye regime, 
it should be recollected that the military force em- 
ployed in the province for many years has been of 
insignificant strength ; a fact that discredits the idea of 
an oppressive or very obnoxious system of government. 

" It has been further alleged, by high authority, that 
the occupation of Candahar would be a final settle- 
ment of the frontier question ; but if tnere is one 
point more than another on which it would be safe 
to utter a prophecy, it is that circumstances would 
necessitate further movements at no distant date, until 
some natural boundary had been reached — indeed, the 
most fatal of the objections to Candahar as a frontier 
is its want of defined and defensible boundaries. 

** By restricting our advance to Pesheen we have 
a strong and, in most respects, a satisfactory frontier, 
and from that position we can lay our hands on 
Candahar at any moment ; and this being so, I fail 
to see why we should anticipate events by under- 
taking a costly, onerous, and exceedingly troublesome 
charge, involving, as it must do, the government of 
a large province, inhabited by a warlike, fanatical, and 
turbulent population, whose independence it is our 
interest to foster, and whose friendship we should 
do our utmost to secure. . . . What I say is, that 
every advantage expected from the occupation of 
Candahar can be secured at a far less cost by the 
occupation of Pesheen, which gives us in addition a 
very strong defensible frontier. A great number of 
people think Candahar essential and a barrier against 
Russia. But they forget that our keeping the province 
would reduce the Afghan kingdom to a position of 
dependence which would always be a danger to us 
and utterly prevent the Afghans themselves from ever 
becoming our hearty friends." 

Candahar, April \2>th, 1879. 

To proceed : General Biddulph was now directed, 
in February, 1879, to return to the Punjab through the 
Thui Chotiali country to the Derajat frontier. He 
was to command a division in three separate columns, 
and to explore and report fully on the district ; and 
was accompanied by Nicholson on his military staff 

198 THE AFGHAN WAR: 1878-9 

and Browne as his political officer. They left 
Candahar on March 7th and proceeded to Balozai, the 
point whence the passes lead to the district that 
was to be examined and which they reached on the 
22nd. Biddulph was to make a general survey of 
the country with special consideration of the routes 
suitable for roads and railways and the movements 
of troops, and of the sites for military positions. 
Major Sandeman accompanied the force. The march 
ended at the Chenab on April 27th. Between March 
22nd and April 27th the exploration was ceaseless, 
and Browne was constantly in charge of detached 
parties. At first the march lay in the Kakur country, 
afterwards in the land of the Murrees and Bhoogtees 
and other Belooch clans. 

The camps were sometimes at an elevation of 
7,000 to 8,000 feet, and sometimes low down on 
the banks of the rivers and streams. From some of 
these points the explorers could see into Zhob, Bori, 
and Pesheen, and noticed that the lie of the hill ranges 
was such that from nearly one apparent centre streams 
would flow to four such different points as the Derajat, 
the Cutchee, Seistan, and Pesheen. 

Some very singular mountain formations were met 
with on the Suliman ranges. One of them, the 
Siazgaie Hill, may be mentioned ; a rock rising almost 
sheer out of the plain, with perpendicular sides for 
half the height, and slopes of 45 at the foot, resembling 
in a measure the Fortress Rock of Gwalior. 

This march was a great enjoyment to Browne, and 
of special interest in his case, as in his original report 
to Lord Lytton on the Cutchee Plain he had referred 
to the possibility that, in consequence of the risks 
as to the lie of the beds of the Indus, the best and 
safest permanent route to the Quetta district might 


be found to lie through this very tract, Thul Chotiali, 
which he was now helping to survey. 

The task occupied almost a month ; the hot weather 
was coming on, and so Browne had to part from 
Biddulph, which he did with great regret. He received 
much kindly recognition both from him and from 
General Stewart, and later on very honourable mention 
in dispatches. 

Some of the phrases they used may be quoted : 

" His special knowledge contributing materially 
towards the completion of the Government desire to 
effect a conciliatory passage." 

" Your services were invaluable." 

" Facilitated these explorations in a most marked 

" I do not think it has ever been clearly pointed 
out that you were the mainspring of all the discoveries 
in these parts on the famous march from Pesheen to 
the Derajat." 

Such were the remarks of the generals. 

This march closed Browne's connection with the 
Afghan war ; and on finding that no satisfactory 
employment was likely to be available, he applied for 
leave and proceeded to England on a holiday of which 
the incidents will be described in the next chapter. 

At first there had been a chance, which however 
came to nothing, of his accompanying Cavagnari to 
Cabul — and afterwards while in England, hearing of 
the outbreak of the second war consequent on 
Cavagnari's murder, he asked for employment in it ; 
but his application was not acceded to, and he 
remained on leave for the full time. 

Meanwhile he had not yet realised correctly what was 
the nature of the exceptional influence he exercised 
over the Ghilzyes, or what its real origin was, or 
what the position they insisted on assigning to him. 


One of the incidents may be recorded. When about 
to accompany Biddulph, one of his friends, a Ghilzye 
chief — Sado Khan — warned him against going into 
Kakur country, and prayed him to pa}^ proper heed 
to the customary ceremonials of Mullahs, such as the 
recital of the orthodox creed, the saintly blessings, 
and the like. But this only amused him. 

It may be observed that General Biddulph (not 
knowing of this episode) was specially surprised by 
some of the instances of his influence and success 
and escapes, and was unable, for instance, to under- 
stand how it was that Browne and his party were 
not, on a certain occasion, murdered by the Achukz}^ 
clan, about Candahar. As the result of his work 
during and after this campaign, he was mentioned 
four times in dispatches, and was made a C.S.I. 

As to general matters during this warfare, though 
a watch was being kept up on the Herat direction, 
Russian action had ceased in Afghanistan itself and 
to its north-west, and the Berlin Conference had 
been held ; but Colley had left India for the supreme 
post in South Africa, where the first troubles were 
beginning that soon increased steadily and caused 
such prolonged anxiety. Gordon had left Central 
Africa after five years of efforts to deal with the 
slave trade, only to find that the fanatic element there 
was beginning to assume a threatening aspect, while 
very soon the Mahdi was to come into notice more 
to the north. The Soudan and the Zulus also were 
threatening in the south — a gloomy prospect indeed. 




'I 1 /HEN Browne now proceeded on furlough, 

towards the end of 1879, the prospects of 

peace with Afghanistan seemed assured, and 
Lord Lytton was not only pressing forward his 
coercion of Afghanistan, but was proceeding on 
the lines of a new policy respecting it — viz. its 
partition into two provinces : the northern to continue 
the country of Afghanistan with its own ruler, but 
with a British representative as Resident at its 
capital, Cabul ; the southern, Candahar, to be placed 
under a separate ruler, as an outlying province of 
British India, stretching up to Herat, and so cutting 
off the communications of Cabul by the old round- 
about route to Persia and Turkestan. Negotiations 
were conducted with Yakoob Khan as the new Ameer, 
and ended in the treaty of Gundamuck on May 
26th, followed by Sir Louis Cavagnari's assumption 
of the post of Resident at Cabul. Sir Donald Stewart, 
however, with his own force and the new Bombay 
division, remained in the neighbourhood of Candahar, 
with the ultimate object of placing it under the rule 
not of the Ameer, but of Wali Shere Ali Khan, whom 



he had already appointed as the proposed temporary 

Meanwhile Browne's plans for his furlough in- 
volved that he should at first reside in France for 
about a year, and after that in England. His first 
object was the study of Russian, and it was to this 
task that he devoted his year of residence in France. 
The efficacy of the knowledge he in the end acquired 
may be gathered from the practical use he made of 
it on one occasion. There had been resident in India 
for some years past a Russian lady who had been 
in the habit of posing as a spiritualist or mystic ; 
and her name and with it the stories that were 
current about her now cropped up at a gathering in 
Paris where Browne was present. " But," says one 
Russian officer to another, in their own language, 
" who and what is she really ? " " Oh, don't you 
know — she is one of the X department," mentioning 
the bureau to which, as was well known to Indian 
officials, appertained the task of political watch and 
agitation and the spread of sedition against the 
British Government ! Such strong confirmation of the 
current rumours was not long, it soon appeared, in 
reaching the proper quarters. 

It might have been thought that Browne would 
be glad to have some rest after the anxious and 
arduous work at which he had been engaged during 
the last few years, but he was so much on the 
strain, mentally, that a touch of really idle rest was 
impossible, and change of work sufficed. And, after 
all, so exceptional was his linguistic aptitude that even 
such a study as that of Russian — carried out too in 
his own jocund and exceptional fashion — was no 
strain to him whatever. As yet few other people 
had gone in for the study of that language, but with 


the example he now set many officers began soon to 
follow suit. Browne himself felt assured that new 
and wider channels of employment and advancement 
would soon be opening out, and that Russia was 
looming clearly in the near distance. So he went in 
briskly and energetically for the task. 

His mode of studying Russian may be described, 
and the rollicking mode of life he led in Paris, so 
thoroughly conversant as he was from his earliest 
days with the language and ways of his French 
neighbours. He set out by securing the services 
of two teachers of the Russian language — one, I 
believe, specially scholastic, and the other specially 
linguistic. With these two he studied on alternate 
days — and then, during his leisure hours after the 
lessons, he used to take long walks into the country, 
book in hand, learning the language by heart, and 
declaiming aloud what he was thus learning. 

He was much amused by the suspicion with which 
the police watched him ; ending as it did in his being 
arrested, and, when soon recognised as an English 
officer, favoured with a hearty apology for the blunder 
from the famous old soldier before whom he had been 
summoned, followed by his friendship. The police 
view was that, after all, and whatever else he might 
be, he was nothing more than a harmless English 

While he was engaged in this study, he lightened 
it by occasional excursions into the country and to 
places of interest. In one of these tours he arrived 
at one of those numerous towns where there was 
some affectation of mystery or secrecy, some spot 
which it was defendu to visit, and so forth — pre- 
cisely the case to excite his desire for some fun. 
So he donned what he could manage approximating 

2o 4 TWO YEARS ON FURLOUGH: 1879-81 

best to the comic stage equipment of the stereotyped 
English countryman on his travels — uncouth hat on 
the back of his head, huge umbrella under his arm, 
and the rest — and proceeded to stroll about, gazing 
open-mouthed as if stupid and bored at everything. 
At length he reached the forbidden ground, and with 
barefaced impudence, and an air of stolid ignorance, 
invaded it, sauntering about as if to kill time. 

Presently up comes a gendarme and informs him, 
with much gesticulation, that it was forbidden for 
any one to walk there. It is hardly necessary to say, 
remembering Browne's turn for language and his 
early years in France, that he not only spoke and 
understood ordinary French well, but was also an 
adept at its slang and argot. But instead of replying 
or arguing, he just looked at the gendarme dully, and 
said, with an atrocious English accent, " Anglais," and 
walked on. After trying all he could, short of force, 
and getting nothing but " Anglais " out of Browne, 
he called another gendarme who also got nothing 
out of Browne but " Anglais," and failed to stop him. 
The men then summoned their sergeant, who suc- 
ceeded no better — and Browne still walked quietly 
on. The men then walked behind him and talked 
him over. One man said, " He calls himself English, 
but he looks more like a German or Italian. I don't 
like his look — it is not English." The other answered, 
"Oh, but see what a stupid fool he looks! That 
shows he is English. All English are stupid pigs." 
Then they asked the sergeant what he thought of 

The sergeant, in a voice of conviction that quite 
settled the question, replied, " He is English ; I know 
he is English ; I can prove he is English. You think 
he is English because he looks stupid. That is true — 


all English are stupid fools — but there is a stronger 
mark of the Englishman. Look at his umbrella — see 
how tight he holds it under his arm. Now an English- 
man will leave his country, he will leave his home, 
he will leave his children, he will leave his wife, 
but he will never leave his umbrella. I know he is 
English ! " 

Browne of course understood perfectly all the 
flattering things they said about English people in 
general and himself in particular ; but, he said, when 
it came to the climax of the umbrella, he nearly 
gave himself away by the inclination to burst out 
laughing. He controlled himself, however, and 
with the three men behind him, cutting jokes at 
his expense, he walked on till he was clear of the 
forbidden ground. 

It was while he was still in Paris and partly during 
his residence in England that the further events and 
episodes of the Afghan war occurred. First Cavagnari 
and his party were attacked and killed ; then Roberts's 
column, being the nearest to Cabul, advanced against 
it and took it after some sharp actions on the way ; 
and trials and retributions for the murders followed. 
After this the country was for a few months nominally 
settled and quiescent. Then, as in the older Afghan 
war, came the inevitable risings ; and Roberts's forces, 
which were dispersed, were in the first instance 
defeated, and had to concentrate in the Sherpore 
entrenchment ; but after a few days they attacked 
and dispersed the Afghan army. 

Meanwhile Stewart's position at Candahar had been 
greatly strengthened by the arrival of the Bombay 
troops. But now he heard of Roberts's difficulties, 
and was ordered to leave the Bombay force to hold 
Candahar, and to march with his own division to 


Ghuznee and Cabul. On the way he had a sharp 
fight and won a decisive victory. 

But, with the several movements that have been 
mentioned, serious changes in the strength of the 
military positions had been occurring. When Stewart 
had first come to Candahar, he had two divisions 
there — and these were being reinforced by troops 
from Bombay ; then he sent off Biddulph to India 
by the Thul Chotiali route, and with him one of 
his two divisions, which left at Candahar Stewart's 
one division and the Bombay force. And during 
all this time Ayub Khan had been holding Herat, 
and had not been meddled with, nor had he attempted 
any forward movement while there were two British 
divisions present at Candahar. But when Stewart 
departed from Candahar with his own division for 
Cabul, as above described, Ayub Khan took advantage 
of the consequent weakening of the force at Candahar 
to march on it from Herat by Girishk, the site of 
Biddulph's operations. The result of this bold advance 
of Ayub Khan was that, in consequence of the mis- 
management of the British commanders left in charge, 
their force was defeated at Maiwand and fled igno- 
miniously into Candahar, which then came under a 
state of siege. 

These were the events that had been occurring 
in India in 1881 during Browne's stay in Paris and 
later on in London, whence he had again tried to 
be allowed to join the army in India, but again 
without success, and where therefore he busied 
himself still more strenuously in all that was being 
done in connection with the operations in India. 

The second year of Browne's furlough now saw 
him established in London, and chiefly occupied in 
the study of the political situation and the aspect of 


coming events — both of them very serious — so serious 
as to demand some description, in two directions at 
least, India and Africa. To take the latter first : Colley, 
who was now the British representative, had come 
to loggerheads with the Boer fraternity, and began 
operations against them by seizing and occupying the 
Majuba Hill, which overlooked and commanded the 
Boer camp. The results are but too well known — his 
defeat and death, and the prolonged strife ending in 
the South African war. 

In India, Ayub Khan had advanced from Herat 
and invaded the Candahar territory, thus giving Sir 
Frederick Roberts the much desired opportunity of 
recovering, in the eyes of the public, his recent signal 
repute, which had, without doubt, been shaken by the 
Sherpore business, however skilfully and quickly he 
had turned the tables on the enemy. He had a true 
and more than loyal friend in Sir Donald Stewart, 
with whose support he led southwards a picked force 
of 10,000 men to the recovery of the position at 
Candahar. His march and battle are too well known 
to need description. The result was, of course, a 
certainty ; but the conduct of the march — a model 
feat — the thoroughness of Ayub Khan's defeat, and 
the promptitude of the recovery of the frontier at 
Candahar, with the clearance of the gloom which had 
been caused by previous occurrences, led to an 
exuberance of satisfaction and rejoicing with the 
British public, and to Roberts's advancement to the 

Meanwhile Sir Donald Stewart had arranged with 
Abdurrahman that he should become the new Ameer, 
and had withdrawn the British force from Cabul into 
British territory. But, as if political and military 
troubles were not sufficient subjects for worry, 


poor Lord Lytton was now, before the end came, 
to become the victim of a financial blundering — 
blundering so great, so obvious, and so grotesque 
that it seems inconceivable that it should have 
passed undetected by the able body of councillors 
by whom he was surrounded. Being called on 
to state the cost of the war, they had deliber- 
ately answered five millions, whereas it had really 
amounted to some eighteen millions. The fault was 
thought to lie with the financial officers in their 
quoting the amount of the booked outlay instead of 
the whole outlay, with explanations of any recoveries 
or drawbacks that might be counted on. But the 
palpable blunder roused widespread ridicule and 

An early change of the ministry in England 
followed promptly, with the recall of Lord Lytton 
and the appointment of Lord Ripon as his successor. 

One immediate result of the termination of the 
war and the change of ministry was a great discussion 
and dispute regarding the disposal of Candahar. 
Apparently all the fine points of Lord Lytton's policy 
were set aside, and, quite irrespective of the new 
Ameer's position and voice in the matter, the question 
that arose was whether or not we should retain 
Candahar. The grounds that were raised, pro and 
con, covered a very wide range ; but Browne, as he 
had been there or thereabouts for so long a period, 
eventually had a public meeting called by his friends, 
and gave a lecture in London on the subject. 

He had, first of all, been in direct communication 
with Lord Lytton on the subject, and had addressed 
to him a memorandum advocating withdrawal ; and 
this paper Lord Lytton had sent to The Times with 
a memorandum of his own views dissenting from 


Browne. Correspondence and interviews with leading 
statesmen had then followed— resulting, in England, 
in controversies in which the several divergent 
views generally followed English party politics, 
while Browne's were based on the military and 
frontier aspects of the case. 

At length, at the end of the year, he gave the 
lecture referred to on the subject, at the East India 
Association, 1 when his former chief, Sir Alexander 
Taylor, presided, and nearly every gentleman of re- 
pute in Indian affairs was present. He there strongly, 
clearly, and with obvious success advocated on the 
one hand the restoration of Candahar to Afghanistan, 
and on the other the occupation and the formation of 
a strong position on the Khwaja Amran range (by 
which Stewart's force had marched to Candahar) and 
at Pesheen itself. He further urged strongly the 
necessity for rail and road communication by Biddulph's 
route from the Derajat into theThul Chotiali districts, 
and reiterated the objections he had laid before Lord 
Lytton to the arrangements, as a permanency, of the 
suggested communications between Sukkur and the 
passes about Quetta. The discussions that ensued 
covered all the points of interest that were involved, 
and were very valuable from the interest they evoked. 

During this stay in London Browne was, in fact, 
making most admirable use of his time in acquiring 
information and coming in touch with the leading 
men of the country. Not only was he thus making 
valuable use of his holiday, but he had plunged into 
authorship, and in quite a different line of thought. 
His strong religious feeling and his deep convictions 
have been referred to in previous chapters ; and now, 
in consequence of much controversy that was going 

1 This lecture is published in full in the Journal of the E.I. A., 1881. 


on in England, he took up the cudgels against the 
scepticism that was more or less rampant, b}^ writing 
and publishing a small brochure on the subject, on 
a purely mathematical basis. Its technicality and 
extremely condensed or compressed style entirely pre- 
vented its reaching the public or attracting attention, 
but it found its way to America, where it excited 
interest and was well noticed. A professional lecturer 
there used to quote largely from it, and spoke of 
it as " the most crushing reply he had ever come 
across to would-be scientists and materialists, and 
the subtlest attack on scepticism he had ever had 
experience of." It later on received attention and 
approval from Sir George Stokes, of Cambridge, one 
of the most eminent mathematicians of the day. 

It was while Browne had not yet returned to India 
that he heard of the death of his brother-in-law and 
brother officer — his school friend, and lifelong comrade, 
W. H. Pierson. Though the Afghan war had come 
to an end, the frontier troubles had continued, and 
Browne's old foes of i860, the Mahsood Wuzeerees, 
had to be coerced. Pierson had been ordered there in 
March, 1881 ; but the very trying climate and exposure 
had led to an attack of dysentery which ended fatally 
in the following September. He had won the gold 
medal of the British Association at the age of seventeen 
and came out in the Bengal Engineers, head of 
Addiscombe, in three instead of the customary four 
terms, winning the Pollock Medal. He was a superb 
musician, a high-class chess player, and an enthusiastic 
boating man, pulling bow in many a winning race. 
He used to take first spears in hog-hunting, had 
seen much military service, and had been three 
times mentioned in dispatches. Till ordered on the 
Wuzeeree expedition, he had been for some time the 



Secretary of the Defence Committe of India, which 
had been hard at work during all Lord Lytton's 
regime. But before that he had been mainly employed 
on the telegraph line through Persia, and passed 
through many interesting episodes in contests with 
the predatory bands by which the survey parties 
used to be attacked. His death was felt to be a 
great loss to his corps and to the state. 

But, before quitting the subject of Lord Lytton's 
rule, a few words may be said of the impressions 
left upon such a man as Browne by the methods 
and results of brilliant genius when regardless and, 
it may be said, contemptuous of matured practical 
experience. Lord Lytton set aside all men of note 
and leant on newly discovered geniuses — Colley, 
Cavagnari, Roberts, Pelly, Griffin, and the like ; but it 
came in the end to Sir Donald Stewart being seen to 
be the mainstay of the empire, shrewd and wise, a 
man who would not put out his arm too far and was 
ever careful to feel his way. Lytton would not 
believe the Ameer, while the Ameer, like Dost 
Mahomed, was correct and sound in his knowledge 
of the people, and of the proper policy, which has 
held good ever since to the present day. He zvould 
force his embassy on the Ameer, and had to face the 
ignominy of its rejection. He would send Cavagnari 
to Cabul, and was stultified and punished by his 
murder. He would send the youngest of his generals 
to the chief post at Cabul, with the result of Sherpore. 
He would weaken the strategical position of Candahar, 
with the result of Maiwand and the necessity for 
the return march from Cabul to Candahar. He wished 
further to plant our own representatives at Cabul and 
Candahar, though at neither capital was one 'eventu- 
ally established. 


But Lord Lytton did, on the other hand, carry out 
many very valuable measures. He may be fairly 
credited with a vigorous advance towards the present 
efficienc}^ in dealing with famines, though his pre- 
decessor, Lord Northbrook, was the first to organise 
any thorough treatment of such visitations ; and he 
started the system of coast, frontier, and internal 
defences which have now been carried out, or are 
still being constructed. These are two measures of 
primary or imperial importance with which his name 
will ever be associated, though, as felt by Browne 
and contemporaries, he was inclined to rely on a few 
selected men of his own choice, and to ignore the 
vast field of able, zealous, and effective officers, of 
matured experience, whom he had at his disposal. 
To use one of Browne's phrases, the methods and 
measures were all "jumpy." 

The result naturally was that, after his rule was 
at an end, the "jumpiness" was continued by the 
almost wanton destruction of the road and railway 
system which he had inaugurated in the Cutchee, in 
aid of the Quetta and Candahar operations ; which 
could with ease have been utilised for the arrange- 
ments and measures eventually adopted. 

One of Lord Lytton's views, for which it is but 
just to give him the fullest credit, was the necessity 
for adopting for the wilder frontier districts, as had 
been done in the older days of the annexation of 
the Punjab, a perfectly different system of rule and 
administration from that in force in the more civilised 
territories. The old names for the contrasted systems 
were the "regulation" and the "non-regulation," and 
it had been Lord Lytton's original intention, delayed 
from stress of other work, to constitute the whole 
of the tracts lying on the right of the Indus as one 



or more non-regulation provinces. This change has 
been fully carried out since, and it was. in fact, 
partly put in force by Lord Lytton himself when he 
constituted Sandeman his agent for the rule of 
Beloochistan. The necessity and merits of the change 
are dealt with in a later chapter, and to no one was 
it more a matter of thought and of interest than to 
Browne, who succeeded Sandeman in those duties, but 
whose rule was, as will be seen, much affected and 
hampered by the tendency of Government to modify 
the methods into more " regulation " channels. 

It may be observed here that the Afghan war was 
the practical outcome of the Russo-Turkish war, and 
that there would have been the further outcome of 
England and Russia joining in the strife but for the 
Berlin treaties. And, further, though England and 
Russia had made a treaty which put a stop to the 
idea of a war between them, still it cannot but strike 
one as unsatisfactory that the methods described so 
clearly by Lord Palmerston should be allowed to 
continue in force. No steps seemed ever to be 
taken to exclude from the customary treatment and 
rights of the agents of civilised countries those who 
violate the procedure and amenities due to other 
states. The Russian agents who remained at Cabul 
to stir up strife long after England and Russia had 
formed their treaty might, one would suppose, be 
held liable to treatment as outside the pale of civilised 
law. The same remark applies to those who were 
the aggressors in later days in what is known as 
the Penjdeh incident. 

During the latter part of Browne's furlough, though 
the Afghan war had come to an end, public matters 
remained everywhere unsettled, and there was much 
turmoil in three several continents, all affecting 

2i 4 TWO YEARS ON FURLOUGH: 1879-81 

England, engaging Browne's attention, and influencing 
his career. And this heat in the political atmosphere 
continued to increase rapidly, till it developed into 
the rebellion of Arabi and the consequent war in 

In Europe the excitement lay between England 
on the one hand and Russia and France on the other. 
Russia was, as ever, intriguing keenly in connection 
with the Turkish question, and the French were 
more or less at issue regarding Egypt, while the 
English had acquired Cyprus as a valuable basis for 
watch and operation. 

In Asia the Russians, after conquering Geok Tepe 
and settling boundary arrangements with Persia, 
were stirring in Turkestan and advancing towards 
Merv, under the guidance of the famed Lessar as 
their surveyor. The utmost confusion and turmoil 
still prevailed in our districts about Quetta and the 
Cutchee, and generally over India, owing to the 
change in the viceroyalty from Lytton to Ripon, and 
the cessation of the Forward Policy. 

Towards the end of 1881, when his furlough had 
come to an end, Browne returned to India, and on 
reaching Bombay found himself appointed to the 
special task of surveying, examining, and reporting 
on the extension of railway systems in the Central 
Provinces of India — i.e. Nagpore and the adjacent 
districts. This involved exploration on elephant-back 
of districts covered with dense jungle, and the use of 
the same class of instruments as when he had ex- 
amined the Cutchee. The work suited hirr^thoroughly, 
and he finished the job in a few weeks, making 
his report long before the Government had expected 
it. He received their warm acknowledgments, and 
was forthwith posted to Simla to the office of the 



military department in which he was appointed to 
the preparation of the designs suggested by the 
Defence Committee, to which reference has been already 
made. This was for him an entirely new line of 
work, and a novel experience ; but he turned to 
it with zest and soon took a keen interest in it, 
being brought into fresh association with Nicholson, 
his brother officer and comrade of Thul Chotiali 

The Defence Committee, it may be observed, had 
been now at work for some time, and the working 
up of these conclusions and the preparation of the 
designs for the schemes they had advocated proved to 
be the particular duty on which Browne was now 
engaged. Owing to his independent habits of thought 
and very varied experience, he was of special use 
in this new post, in which he had to deal with the 
defences of India internal as well as external; and 
to himself the work was of much advantage, as, while 
utilising his old experiences at Attock and Peshawur 
and the frontier, he was led to broader views and 
grave practical questions of higher military and 
strategical consideration. 

But, after only a few months of this occupation, a 
fresh change was to take place in his career. Such 
stir as there was on the Afghan frontier or in the 
direction of Russia will be presently described ; but 
the fanatical feeling in Egypt, which had come to a 
crisis, must be now dealt with, and the war which 
consequently ensued. Arabi Pasha was for a while 
master of the situation. The British fleet had bom- 
barded the defences of Alexandria, and war had 
been declared. At first it was uncertain what steps 
would be taken in which India should bear a part ; 
but at length it was decided that General Herbert 


Macpherson should lead a contingent to Egypt. 
And to that contingent Browne was appointed 
Commanding Royal Engineer, with Nicholson as 
one of his officers. 

Of course, some short time elapsed before this 
decision was arrived at, and in that interval Browne's 
special attention was more directly turned to sea- 
coast defences, not only for the ports of India, but 
those that he might have to deal with in the coming 
campaign. Till the definite decisions were arrived at 
and the orders received, Browne increased his know- 
ledge and laboured as strenuously as ever at these 
harbour defences, and also at railway designs and 
arrangements in connection with the defences and 
for strategical purposes generally ; but when once 
the orders were received, he was indefatigable in 
his preparations and inquiries. In these matters he 
was much helped by his friend Mr. (afterwards Sir) 
Guilford Molesworth, with suggestions for the work 
that probably lay before him, and with practical assist- 
ance in getting the engineer and railway equipment 
he would certainly need. It will be seen later on 
how valuable was this practical help, not only to 
Browne himself, but to the whole ensuing war, as 
his very complete equipment led to his railway branch 
being employed to an exceptional degree. 

While Browne is preparing for the Egyptian 
campaign, we must turn to other complications that 
he had been watching. The Russians had conquered 
Geok Tepe, and were now stirring in Turkestan and 
advancing on Merv, giving rise to much anxiety, the 
Mervousness sneered at by His Grace of Argyll. 
They had settled their boundary arrangements with 
Persia, and Lessar was in charge of the Merv surveys 
and explorations. Needless to say, the keenest watch 



was felt to be necessary and was being kept up in 
that direction. At the same time, the settlement of 
our own measures in regard to Afghanistan had 
advanced so far that it had been decided that 
Candahar was to be given up, while Quetta had been 
already formally acquired and incorporated into 
British Indian territory, and Abdur Rahman was 
busy in organising his new rule of Afghanistan. 




'"T^HIS Egyptian war in which Browne was now 

\ to take a part was practically the beginning 
of the long-continued conflict of Britain in 
North-east Africa against Mahomedan misrule and 
fanaticism ; though it had not yet taken the later 
form of Mahdi-ism. The Mahdi and his followers 
had not yet appeared at, much less north of, Khartoum, 
though their territory covered ten degrees of longitude 
and ten of latitude immediately to its south. Their 
attitude was very threatening. They were known 
to be advancing, and in the very next year they 
were giving trouble about Suakim. It was under 
the heated atmosphere which they were creating that 
Arabi had been playing his quasi-patriotic, but really 
self-seeking part and stirring up Alexandria into 
fanatical revolt. There its Egyptian population in 
accord with him were showing their hostility to the 
British and Europeans generally. It was essential 
that this spirit should be met and crushed, and, as 
France had declined to co-operate with her, England 
was now undertaking the task single-handed, and had 
begun by the bombardment of Alexandria. 


The general features of the subsequent campaign 
may be at once sketched briefly, without dealing 
further with the original outbreak. 

The British force (from England) first showed itself 
at Alexandria and hovered about in that neighbour- 
hood. Then British ships-of-war blocked the two 
ends of the Suez Canal, Port Said and Suez, and 
dominated the whole sea-coast of Egypt. On this, 
but while the Indian contingent was still en route 
from Bombay to Suez, Arabi Pasha concentrated the 
Egyptian army at Benha, south-east of Alexandria, a 
railway junction for the lines from Alexandria, from 
Cairo, from Damietta, and from Suez ; after which 
he threw out detachments from Benha eastwards to 
Zagazig and Tel-el-Kebir, and then awaited further 

On the other hand, about the middle of August, 
when the Indian contingent might be soon expected 
to appear near Suez, Wolseley, who commanded the 
whole expedition, disappeared with his fleet, and the 
bulk of the force that had been at Alexandria, leading 
the Egyptians to look out for his landing at Damietta ; 
nor were they undeceived till a week later, when, on 
August 20th, Port Said and Suez, the two ends of 
the Canal, were simultaneously seized and occupied in 
strength, as noted, the former by Wolseley's force, and 
the latter by the Indian contingent under General Mac- 
pherson. Four days afterwards, on the 24th, a column 
of 8,000 men occupied the Port of Ismailia, on the 
Canal, lying midway between Port Said and Suez, and 
exactly east of Arabi's position at Zagazig and Tel-el- 
Kebir. Wolseley's column went forward at once from 
Ismailia, fought advanced guard actions with Arabi's 
army, and took up a position at Kassassin, within 
striking distance of the Egyptian position. There it 


remained, clearing the neighbourhood and collecting its 
resources, till September 12th. Then by a night march 
it burst on Arabi at Tel-el-Kebir on the morning of the 
13th, and totally routed his force. On that evening it 
seized the railway centres about Zagazig, capturing 
numerous trains, and next day Cairo surrendered to 
the force. Thus was the war finished at one blow. 

It is advisable to touch on a feature of this war 
the grave importance of which is not always recognised. 
Arabi, in his measures for bringing on the war, meant 
to give it the character of a holy war and turn it 
into a crescentade— a widespread conflict of creeds — 
and he worked vigorously to rouse and to bring to 
his standard and support the Arab tribes on the 
east of the Suez Canal and in the Sinai Peninsula, 
and if possible all Arabia and Syria also. Only that 
narrow strip of canal separated all these possible 
allies from the impending theatre of operations. This 
danger, though kept in the dark, was realised in 
England, and steps were at once taken to secure 
the services of Mr. Edward Palmer, foremost of 
Orientalists and Arabian travellers, and with him 
Captain Gill, a traveller and a retired R.E., to proceed 
to the Sinai Peninsula and influence the tribes there 
to side with us instead of attacking us. This scheme 
was successfully carried out. Of the four great tribes 
that occupy that region, three had promised to side 
with us by protecting and patrolling the Canal and 
keeping off intruders. Only the fourth tribe showed 
a hostile tendency, and they were prevented by the 
other three from doing serious mischief, at any rate 
from going against us in a body or in any great 
numbers. How different it would have been if, for 
instance, they had been at Tel-el-Kebir to patrol 
during the night, in the front of the position, and so 


avert a surprise ! But unfortunately this fourth tribe 
managed to watch Palmer and Gill, attacking and 
killing them when taking treasure to the friendly tribes. 
They captured and then shot them in cold blood, 
on August nth, in one of thei wadies to the south- 
east of Suez. 

To turn now to details and especially to Browne's 
part. He was C.R.E. (Commanding Royal Engineer) 
of General Macpherson's contingent, as already 
mentioned, with Captains Nicholson and Burn- 
Murdoch as his field Engineers, and four companies of 
Sappers and Pioneers from the several armies of 
India (Bengal, Punjab, Madras, and Bombay) under 
him. Before starting for Bombay he had made careful 
investigations and preparations for the work before 
him, especially in regard to the best modes of 
restoring railway communications that might there 
become interrupted ; and had provided the necessary 
plant. In this he showed much real ability and great 
foresight, but there does not appear to have been any 
official recognition of the matter. He had reached 
Bombay on August 6th, and with Burn-Murdoch's 
assistance prepared all the material they were likely 
to require, including a 56-foot girder which could be 
taken to pieces and packed for carriage. Then off 
in steamers and transports to Suez. 

While on board he managed a useful little piece 
of work. Getting hold of a quantity of ship's hose, 
he cut it up into proper lengths, for men and for 
horses respectively, and sewing up the ends, turned 
these into excellent water-bottles, carrying three 
days' supply for the march, slung round the men's 
shoulders, or tied round the horses' bodies like 

The whole squadron reached Suez on the 20th, 


and Browne and his party were immediately at work, 
putting into a state of defence against an}^ sudden 
attack the principal local buildings and works, such as 
the Chalet, the Victoria Hospital, the Freshwater 
Canal, and so on. The force, including horses and 
material as well as men, had then to be landed ; and 
much amusement occurred. Browne had already 
erected a substantial pier, and now there arose a 
demand for a gangway. Having nothing else available, 
he pounced on some suitable material lying on the 
bank without any visible claimant, promptly sawed 
it up into the needful parts, and made his gangway. 
Now comes on the scene the rightful owner, a naval 
officer ! Tableau, and result ! First — good strong 
nautical language ; next — compliments on the excellent 
use and advantage to which the stolen goods had 
been put ; eventually — a warm friendship ! 

Browne, too, was apparently the first person to use 
the gangway. A question had arisen of the mode 
of landing the horses, chucking them into the sea, 
or how. Now Browne was exceptionally fond of 
horses, and they of him, and he was at this juncture 
the happy owner of a very powerful and docile 
English mare ; so he quietly led her himself ahead 
of all over the gangway, and the other steeds all 
followed her closely in a string without a mishap. 
The force from England had not managed their 
landing in this manner, but had used boats and 

From Suez Browne was first engaged in repairing 
the roads (to Geneffe and elsewhere), the local canals, 
and the railways lying to the north. In this task 
the preparations he had made in India and the plant 
he had brought with him stood him and the army 
in good stead, especially as Captain Wallace arrived 


[To face p. 222. 



shortly by the Canal from the Alexandria party, 
bringing a locomotive with him — so that Browne 
was presently going along the old line to Ismailia, 
repairing the track as he proceeded. The cavalry of 
the contingent had been sent off before he started, 
and there had been much chaff as to the messages 
they would give in advance ; and now, en revanche, 
the engines, whistling and blowing off steam, rushed 
past the cavalry horses, fresh from board ship — with 
a result that need not be described. 

The contingent presently moved to and collected 
at Ismailia and was kept there in the rear of the 
whole force till the final advance, and then only, for 
the first time, if one is to be guided by the official 
record, was its existence as part of the force recog- 
nised. But it had been first denuded of its cavalry, 
which had been sent ahead to join the cavalry 
division of the army at the front. While at Ismailia, 
Browne was kept hard at work, repairing roads and 
canals, and making accessory railway lines. At 
length, on September 6th, the contingent was warned 
of the impending advance, and on the 10th it started, 
with baggage and stores complete, for the front. 
On the 10th it reached Mahuta, and on the nth 
Kassassin, whence, after a brief halt to prepare for 
the concerted action, it started on the night of the 
1 2th for the next day's surprise and the series of 
battles of the 13th, which began at Tel-el-Kebir and 
went on to Zagazig or Cairo without a check or halt. 
The contingent started from a point which was in 
rear of the whole army ; it had also to make a circuit- 
ous flanking movement round the Tel-el-Kebir mound, 
which, of course, lengthened its march. This was 
intentional, in order that it might not show too early 
to the villagers and others on the left flank that the 


force had begun to advance. Fortunately its route 
was not over the deep, sandy, trackless desert plain 
which the main army had to traverse, but along the 
Canal bank, which formed a fair and marked roadway. 
The result of this was that, though the contingent 
had to march a greater distance than the rest of the 
army, it moved faster and reached the enemy's trenches 
as soon as the main army did, and was not subjected 
during the darkness to the same anxiety, fatigue, or 
uncertainty as to the route, and to the consequent 
halts and delays that troubled the main force. It 
accordingly came suddenly as a surprise on the 
enemy at their extreme right flank, which was weak 
and unsupported and consisted chiefly of gun pits. 
The enemy were consequently taken aback and tried to 
open fire when unprepared. One sixteen pounder shell 
did burst close to the general, but without doing any 
damage ; and General Macpherson then went to work 
at once with the bayonet. His loss consequently 
was small. He first charged and took the gun pits 
and their guns, and then immediately afterwards two 
redoubts, farther on, where he captured fourteen guns. 
At the gun pits the enemy apparently tried to run 
out some of their guns into the open in order to 
get them nearer the Canal and to act on our flank, 
but Macpherson was too quick for them. The 72nd 
charged the lines splendidly, while Browne and Burn- 
Murdoch, being independent, kept on the extreme 
left, dashed by themselves at the guns there, and 
captured them ; Browne never using his sword or 
other weapon, but upsetting the enemy like ninepins 
by the weight of his charger and the swish of her 
tail. He likened his steed to " an iron-clad rushing 
through a fleet of cockle shells." When the fight 
at Tel-el-Kebir itself was over, the enemy had already 


begun to flee in the most open directions, most of 
them, including Arabi, towards Cairo, the rest towards 
Zagazig. The latter was the direction in which the 
Indian contingent was ordered to pursue vigorously, 
as it was evidently much less exhausted than the 
English force, which had had to plough its way over 
plains of sand. 

So Macpherson pushed along beyond the battle- 
field, marching nearly thirty miles in the day's work, 
and seizing every opportunity for thoroughly com- 
pleting and utilising the success. At an early stage 
of this pursuit Browne caught some of the enemy 
opening the Canal sluices, but soon stopped the 
attempt. The contingent forced its way on towards 
Zagazig, which it reached at four o'clock, preceded by 
its cavalry, a picked detachment, with Macpherson at 
its head, accompanied by his staff, including Browne 
and Burn-Murdoch. They were the first of the army 
to arrive at Zagazig. Burn-Murdoch, with some 
twenty of the Sowars (troopers), being the foremost 
of all, went straight for the railway station, where 
they caught a train as it was on the point of starting. 
He forced it to halt, having first to shoot the engine- 
driver, who had refused to do so. Nicholson, with 
another party, then captured four other trains com- 
plete with locomotives and stores ; on which Browne 
sent one of them back under Burn-Murdoch to help 
the 72nd in for the last six miles — a great relief after 
the day's long and exhausting march. 

The whole day's performance was wonderful, so 
thorough and clean, including as it did not only the 
victory at Tel-el-Kebir, but its effect in the capture 
next day of Cairo itself, and Macpherson's brilliant 
and successful seizure of Zagazig, which cut the railway 
system in two, at once paralysing the enemy and 



dominating the position in every direction. The 
Indian contingent afterwards went on to Cairo, was 
especially reviewed, and attracted much attention — 
particularly that of the Russian attache, who seemed 
thunderstruck with their appearance. " I had no con- 
ception you had such troops in India — I will never 
again call England a second-class military power. 
With such troops— fed by the millions of India — you 
could lay down the law to the world." 

After the assault on Tel-el-Kebir there had been no 
fighting. While galloping along with Macpherson's 
party to Zagazig, the troops with him hardly meddled 
with the " Gippys," who were simply stampeding, and 
not attempting to fight or defend themselves. It 
seemed almost a farce, and drew forth the contemptu- 
ous anger of an old Sikh officer : " Call this war ! 
No fighting, no slaughter — not even loot ! " 

A pleasant ending to Browne's experiences of this 
expedition was the R.E. dinner, in which some seventy 
of the corps joined. But he was then for a short 
time prostrated by a very severe attack of illness, 
before he could actually start on his return to India, 
as he did in the first week of October. 

Before quitting the subject of the Egyptian war 
it may be permitted to remark on a few points that 
are suggested by the campaign, to which Browne 
was afterwards in the habit of referring. 

There was no sign whatever of a fanatical feeling in 
the Egyptian soldiery or among the people generally. 
This was very striking to one who had had experience 
of this fanaticism among the Afreedees and the wild 
tribes on the north-west frontiers of the Punjab. 
Such efforts as Arabi may have made for his own 
ends to excite a fanatical feeling among his own 
troops or among the Arab race were quite fruitless, 


and in the murder of Gill and Palmer lust of gold 
and not fanaticism was the real exciting cause. 

Next, the Egyptian troops showed neither discipline 
nor valour. Nothing was more obvious than that 
Arabi's prevision for the organisation of his army 
had been wanting in all essentials and was worthless. 
Further, all the bravery of the race seems, for the 
time, to have evaporated, and it required a Kitchener 
to restore discipline and steady courage. 

Browne, of course, took no part in these subsequent 
operations in Egypt ; but he kept a keen watch over 
them, especially as so many of those concerned in 
them were old friends and brother officers, and it 
was with no small elation that he felt what grand 
work they were doing — Gordon at Khartoum and 
Wilson's efforts to reach him, Scott Moncrieff at 
the barrage of the Nile, Kitchener at his new army, 
Gerald Graham at the coast, Girouard and his 
desert railway. He appreciated the resolute, wise, 
steady stand against what to many seemed to be the 
irresistible advance of the Mahdi and his fanatic slave 
stealers, ruthlessly bent on throwing back for centuries 
the civilisation and the advancement of mankind which 
it has been so specially the aim and role of England 
to forward at all cost and all hazard. 

Doubtless Browne often found himself wishing to 
play his part in these regions, but, after all, he was 
to be doing equally valuable work in India, building 
up the defences that were essential to the permanent 
safety and stability of the British rule of the country. 

But from the day of Tel-el-Kebir English control 
and guidance has never left the soil of Egypt. At 
first the intention of the British was only to restore 
order, and in no way to interfere afresh in the affairs 
of the country, still less to go in for its military 


occupation. But it was only now that the terrible 
rottenness of the country came clearly to light, and 
led to the present issue. The whole administrative 
machinery had to be overhauled and mostly recon- 
structed. The policy of the British officials, before 
the war, had been sound and wise, but they had no 
real power or support ; and now they went at the 
task with a will, as far as they — i.e. Baring and the 
local authorities — were concerned, though only half- 
heartedly supported from England. 

The story of the continuous efforts that eventually 
succeeded so thoroughly is too well known to need 
further description here. But it is important to recall 
all the past mishaps — the opposition to our steps for 
the suppression of slavery, the death of Gordon, the 
advance of the Mahdi, and then the eventual triumph 
of Kitchener, and the prosperity with which the land 
of Egypt has been gladdened. 

That country has well added its quota to the evi- 
dence that able Englishmen in foreign lands, if let 
alone, can add immeasurably to the glory and honour 
of England ; but if worried by ignorant interference, 
ma} 7 , from their sense of loyalty and discipline and 
habits of obedience, submit to complications which 
with most nations could not be repaired. 




FOR the Egyptian campaign Browne was twice 
mentioned in dispatches, and received the C.B. 
and other honours He used to contrast sar- 
castically the numerous decorations given for this 
business with the solitary clasp which represented the 
far more real and arduous fighting of the Umbeyla 
struggle. Certainly this campaign gave no indication 
of the severities and difficulties of the subsequent 
African wars, which would have suited his bent 
more thoroughly — the Soudan, Suakim, Khartoum, 
South Africa. 

On returning to India he rejoined the Military 
Works Office at Simla, and then found that he had 
been selected and had forthwith to prepare for a 
stupendous engineering task, the construction of the 
Hurnai Railway from the plains of Beloochistan to 
the Pesheen Plateau on the borders of Afghanistan. 
But for this nearly a year of preparation was neces- 
sary. Meanwhile Russia, with her customary astute 
diplomacy, was now (1883) taking advantage of 
England's difficulties in Africa to press her own 
interests in Asia and to advance towards Merv; while 


2 3 o THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

in Africa matters were in a state of severe tension — 
Hicks's force was annihilated, the Mahdi had seized 
Bara and El Obeid, and Sinkat was separated from 
Suakim. At the same time, on the other hand, our 
relations with Afghanistan itself were improved ; and 
the chief danger seemed, to experts, to lie in a ten- 
dency to conform in India to the Gladstonian senti- 
ments that had characterised the Majuba policy. 

Before, however, concluding this chapter of the 
closing features of the Egyptian war, one incident of 
Browne's stay at Simla may be mentioned. He was 
taking all the rest and amusement he could get, while 
setting to work at the preparations for his new task 
in the Military Office at Simla; and this lay, as 
usual with him, not in quiet repose, but in vigorous 
social amusements and in music. There was a very 
musical society at that time at Simla ; concerts and 
oratorios were the rage, and there used to be weekly 
afternoon performances. Browne joined in the 
oratorios, but could not afford the time for practice 
or preparation; so that on one of these occasions 
he prolonged the chorus of " Stone him to death " 
in the oratorio of St. Paid by an additional solo, 
somewhat disturbing the gravity of the meeting, and 
leading to a bandsman's remark that the event of 
the concert had been " Colonel Browne's Brickbat 
Chorus." Then, at the ensuing weekly concert, when 
Browne entered the room he was greeted with " Stone 
him to death " from a dark corner of the room, and 
on going there to find out the delinquent, who should 
it prove to be but his old friend and leader, Sir 
Donald Stewart, the Commander-in-chief. 

Selected as he had now been for the Hurnai task, 
his career, thenceforward, was never disconnected 
with the Russo-Afghan question, in one or more of 


[To .face p. 230. 


its branches or bearings. During the Egyptian war, 
and for a few months later, the difficulties in the 
political world continued. In India itself the situation 
had become very unpleasant. The Viceroy, Lord 
Ripon, one of the wisest and most far-seeing men 
that ever held that post, had been misled, and by 
his premature proposals for the Ilbert Bill, and the 
share to be assigned by it to educated natives in 
the administration and courts of the country, had 
seriously damaged his aim and greatly delayed the 
politic end he had in view ; though he was still 
studiously carrying out some very valuable measures. 
No ruler ever left India so beloved, respected, and 
honoured by the native community of all ranks as did 
Lord Ripon. But in some points of practical ad- 
ministration, such as that of the frontier especially, 
he had occasionally allowed matters to slide, and to 
fall into untrained and unsuitable hands ; and this, 
as it turned out, greatly affected the operations on 
which Browne was to be engaged before the year 
was over. 

This chapter deals with the start of Browne's greatest 
feat in engineering, but the following introductory and 
preliminary remarks are meant to throw light not so 
much on the task itself as on the state of affairs in 
the Hurnai neighbourhood during the four years which 
had elapsed since Browne had last been there. There 
had been little change at first, or until the Afghan 
war came to an end. Then came our retirement, 
when the cessation of the war was characterised by 
exceptional scenes and episodes which will be shown 
presently, culminating in the destruction, sale, or 
removal of nearly all the arrangements and plant 
which had been organised or constructed for our 
connection with the Quetta and other hill districts. 

232 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

This was suddenly checked by the aspect of affairs 
from the Russian quarter, and the consequent volte- 
face of our Government, stopping the withdrawals 
which had been begun, and restoring and increasing 
the facilities for a renewal of our recent occupation of 
those districts — and that in a more permanent fashion 
than before. The Bolan route for light traffic, under 
Colonel Lindsay, was one of the measures then taken 
in hand ; while the Hurnai route, for heavy traffic, 
a much graver undertaking, was to be entrusted to 
Browne. His local experience and influence with the 
frontier men, and his exceptional and paramount 
power with the Ghilzyes in particular, besides his 
repute for mastering difficulties, had led to his 
selection for the task. Another point that carried 
weight towards this decision was that troubles with 
the Russians were again brooding — this time with 
reference to the delimitation of the boundary of 
Afghanistan ; and an able and resolute soldier was 
needed to meet any special difficulties that might arise 
either locally or generally in the conduct of the 
important charge which the work was felt to be. 

It has been mentioned that the line had been 
already reconnoitred and decided on. The circum- 
stances under which this had been done were as 
follows. In Lord Lytton's usual fashion of selecting 
some special person, however unprofessional, for any 
extraordinary task, he had, in 1879, desired Sir 
Richard Temple, the Governor of Bombay, to proceed 
to Beloochistan, go to the Bolan Pass, see to the 
needs of the transport towards Candahar, cause a 
railway to be constructed across the Cutchee Plain 
to Sibi — a railway, that is, of a more permanent 
character than the temporary lines which had been, 
till then, carrying the needful war transport ; and, 


further, to investigate the question of the route for 
a railway for heavy traffic from the plains to 

Sir Richard's preliminary discussions with Colonel 
Sandeman, who, it will be remembered, was the 
ruler of Beloochistan before and during the Afghan 
war, had led him to concur fully in his view that 
the proposed railway could not be made through the 
steep passes of the Bolan ; and therefore, at his sug- 
gestion and that of Colonel Lindsay, the local chief 
Engineer, he now examined, on horseback, the routes 
through the Hurnai passes. Starting from Sibi, to 
the west of which the Bolan lay, and trending first to 
the east and then circling round, he soon reached and 
went onwards by passes nearly parallel to the Bolan 
route, till eventually he reached the Pesheen Plateau. 
It may be incidentally noted that the wildness of the 
local tribes, and of the country defiles, made the 
journey one of serious danger, and demanded great 
care and watchfulness as well as boldness and 

To reach the Pesheen Plateau, after traversing the 
Hurnai defiles, he had explored thence by side routes 
to the foot of the pass which led to it, and had then 
ascended upwards through the pass till he attained to 
the plateau itself. In so doing he detected the cross 
rifts between the parallel valleys, and it was this 
feature — the existence of the rifts — that seems to have 
guided Sir Richard to the plan or route which he 
proposed ; but, as will be eventually seen, the task of 
negotiating those rifts in the course of the eventual 
work proved a stupendous one. Still it obviously 
gave an opening for a through line, at a reasonable 
slope — the essential desideratum for which his pro- 
posals were to provide, and for which no alternative 

234 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

route could then be heard of or has ever since been 

In due course he submitted his scheme or sketch 
proposals ; and in the interval between that date and 
1883 more detailed, but still only preliminary, surveys 
and proposals for the route and the work were sent 
to Government. But, as will be seen, and as was 
unavoidable under the circumstances, they were quite 
worthless and misleading as to the difficulties to be 
overcome, the gravity of the work to be carried out, 
and the cost that would be involved. Such was the 
stage of the engineering information when Browne 
was proposed for the charge of the undertaking. 

Before leaving the subject of Sir Richard Temple's 
report, two points may be mentioned, not affecting 
that report, but bearing on the lines he dealt with. 
One is that when the war with Afghanistan broke 
out, in 1878, the nearest point of railway communica- 
tion to Afghanistan was at Sukkur, where the railway 
from Lahore to Kurrachee crosses the Indus, and 
that its trains were taken then, and for some time 
afterwards, across that great river on steam ferries, 
there being no bridge there till many years afterwards. 
The other point is that, in continuation of the work 
done by Browne in 1876 in facilitating the crossing 
of the Cutchee Plain, Colonel Lindsay had carried 
his temporary railway to completion, and with great 
rapidity. But at the date which the story of Browne's 
career has now reached — i.e. when he was back at 
Simla and under orders to prepare for the Hurnai 
work — confusion had long been prevailing in those 
border districts ever since the close of the Afghan war. 
This unhappy circumstance was consequent on the 
change of ministry in England and of the viceroyalty in 
India, accompanied by the exaggerated sentiments, the 


bitter spirit, and the drastic action that ensued on 
and characterised the change. The attitude seemed 
to imply a desire not for construction, but for de- 
struction, for the sweeping away, as it were, of some 
disgraceful episode. The railways and tramways were 
torn up and all existing transport arrangements were 
set aside. In fact, while Lord Roberts was being 
glorified in England, the results of his and Stewart's 
successes in India were being treated as if sheer 
oblivion was the only future they merited. Rails 
and plant, invaluable for the task that Browne would 
soon have to undertake, were being sold off for a 
song, and had in a few months to be replaced at 
fabulous prices under the emergency that had then 

Browne had of course become aware very early 
of the policy and characteristics of Lord Ripon's rule, 
and of the instructions with which he had undertaken 
his high office — the policy of hasty withdrawal, and 
the orders that Candahar and Quetta were to be 
given up, and with them the incomplete or tem- 
porary railways. As a fact, Candahar was absolutely 
abandoned, but happily the logic of facts and his 
own good sense were stronger with Lord Ripon 
than even his sense of allegiance to Mr. Gladstone's 
policy; and hence the withdrawal of the British 
troops stopped short at Quetta, which was after all 
retained as the capital of the frontier province and 
the basis of the frontier defence. 

Such, as have now been described, were the ante- 
cedents of the Hurnai project when Browne returned 
from Egypt to Simla early in 1883, and was warned 
that he would have the charge of the undertaking. 
At first the aspect of affairs did not seem to lead to 
any more serious idea than that the task would be 

236 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

a very heavy and difficult one, and while he was 
still at work on the Defence Committee, his special 
preparations for the Hurnai fitted in very conveniently 
with the duties of his actual post. 

Soon, however, the aspect changed, quite apart from 
the confusion in the Cutchee itself. The Russians' 
advance from their more westerly position towards 
Merv had been going on in a somewhat treacherous 
manner, and with false avowals of their real intentions ; 
till towards the end of 1883 it began to be clearly seen 
that the Russian general, apparently a Mahomedan 
adventurer named Alikhanoff, was coercing the people 
of Merv and its neighbourhood, so as to form a basis 
or starting-point for more advanced operations, and 
to come within striking distance of the positions that 
intervened between Merv and Herat. On this now 
becoming obvious, the preparations for starting the 
Hurnai work were hastened on ; and one of the points 
arranged was that the work, though an Engineer 
operation, should be under the Military, and not the 
Public Works Department of the Government, and 
should be conducted under the guidance of the 
Commander-in-chief, Sir Donald Stewart. 

But Browne's preparations had to be more and 
more expedited, and expanded so as to include 
measures not previously contemplated, and all these 
were carried on in full concert with Sir Donald 
Stewart and, in many matters, at his suggestion. The 
essential features of the arrangements for Browne's 
conduct of the work were these : his one imperative 
aim, to which all else was to be subordinated, was to 
drive on the work with the greatest speed possible, 
so as to complete the task by the earliest date in 
his power; he was not to be hampered with the 
customary official work, including the claims of 



estimates ; he was to have at least one brigade of 
troops for the protection of the work, and to command 
it with the rank and the customary authority of a 
brigadier; he was to have a considerable body of 
Sappers and Miners and of Pioneers as part of his 
brigade; and he was to be wholly uncontrolled and 
untrammelled in his conduct of the work, and to have 
an absolutely free hand. These were great, unusually 
great, powers ; but they were necessary for even the 
happiest conditions under which the task could be 
carried on. 

But, as will be seen, wholly unforeseen and por- 
tentous difficulties arose, amounting to catastrophes, 
which rendered the work one of quite extraordinary 

Browne, on preparing to start, was, as has been 
mentioned, to be free from all the customary routine 
of Public Works business, owing to the emergency of 
the case. He was in the position of a chief Engineer 
as regards work and responsibility, but he was never 
provided either at first or afterwards with the customary 
establishment office and officers for a chief Engineer's 
charge, owing obviously at first to the understanding 
that he was not to be hampered with the customary 
office duties of the post. It was to be essentially an 
urgent piece of war engineering to be carried through 
as rapidly as possible. 

It must be very clearly and explicitly understood 
that when the task was assigned to Browne, and when 
he left Simla to start the work, the matter was entirely 
a military undertaking, and lay in the hands of the 
military members of the Viceroy's Council, and still 
more of Sir Donald Stewart, from whom both officially 
and personally he received full instructions and advice 
on all points. It was a work of military urgency, and, 

238 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

as already noted, estimates for it were not to be an 
essential matter any more than for the expenses of 
war ; speed ! speed ! again speed ! was the essential 

But owing, it may be assumed, to some special 
exigencies of the state, Browne had no sooner left 
Simla than an entire revolution in the arrangements 
took place ; another member was added to the Council 
of the Viceroy and put in control of the Public Works 
Department, to which, too, the Hurnai Railway was 
suddenly transferred from the Military Department, 
under which it had heretofore been fully arranged that 
it should be carried out. Hence Browne, on reaching 
Sibi, whence the railway was to start, found that he 
was not to be under Sir D. Stewart or the Military 
Department, but under the new special member for 
Public Works ; and that the arrangements, conditions, 
and understandings settled with Sir Donald and the 
Military Secretariat were to be ignored, especially 
in respect of Browne's own latitude and freedom from 
control in details. This entirely altered Browne's 
position, doing away with the powers which had been 
promised and were requisite, without, on the other 
hand, lessening his responsibility for the results. 

It may be assumed that public exigencies, arising 
chiefly from the Russian storm cloud, had made it 
necessary to have this additional member and to place 
Browne's charge under him ; but it was a pity that 
the exceptional position of that charge was not ex- 
plicitly recorded by Government. This omission, 
however, was only one symptom of the general con- 
fusion that prevailed. 

Browne had of course been aware that this muddling 
had been prevalent, but he had hoped that his position 
under the Military Department would have saved 


him from being affected by it ; and he now raised 
no decided objection to the change, trusting, of course, 
that the great feature of the arrangement, freedom 
from interference, would be adhered to ; but, unfor- 
tunately, this was not to be. His new chief, zealous 
and energetic, and with the enthusiasm of an amateur, 
began interfering from the very start in details 
respecting chiefly the business arrangements ; and 
Browne, trusting to an improvement on these points 
in the course of time, and relying on the support of 
those by whom he had heretofore been guided, drove 
on the actual work as hard as he could. This was 
the essential need — other matters he left to time ; but 
he could not help the delay or the extra outlay entailed 
by the new arrangements, to which he had at once 
objected, in the conduct of the enterprise. It is to 
be understood that when Browne joined at Sibi he 
learnt at once that he was to be under — not Stewart — 
but the new member of Council. But it was only by 
degrees that he learnt or found what this meant — 
viz. that the free hand, the basis of his position, was 
to be first of all ignored, next discountenanced, thirdly 
paralysed, and lastly upset. Hence Browne, acting 
on the principle of the superior claims of the urgency 
of the needs of the state, while endeavouring to carry 
out the orders he received from time to time, steadily 
and undeviatingly carried on his work at the utmost 
speed, so as to complete it at the earliest possible 
date, in despite of all difficulties and obstructions. 

When, however, he was transferred from military 
control to that of the Public Works Department, 
it may be at once said that he looked forthwith 
at such estimates as already existed, and found 
them wholly unreliable and useless, as the works 
that were now found to be absolutely necessary 

2 4 o THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

exceeded, to a degree that cannot be adequately 
described, what had been provided for in those 
preliminary estimates. 

It may be mentioned here, as a matter personally 
affecting Browne, that with this new task — the Hurnai 
Railway — he was being advanced from the executive 
duties and grades of the service to the highest class 
of responsible functions under the Government, of 
which he was to hold three in succession. The first 
was this one, the charge of the construction of the 
Hurnai Railway, which was of itself to involve four 
functions of grave responsibility — Engineer, Military, 
Administrative, and Diplomatic, or Political, as it is 
called in India. The next of the three posts was 
that of Quartermaster-General of the army, directly 
under the Commander-in-chief ; and the third was 
the Government of Beloochistan, which involved a 
still wider range of duties and responsibilities than 
even the Hurnai Railway, and which ended with his 
death, after a short and sudden illness. 

As Browne was now about to start the operations, 
the position must be clearly and explicitly stated. 
Without any idea of an impending change in the 
supervising department, he had, when asked if he 
would undertake the task, expressed his willing- 
ness to do so on conditions, which had been fully 
and heartily agreed to — viz. that his funds were to 
be unlimited, that he was not to be cramped by 
estimates nor b}^ sanctioned designs, and that the 
speedy execution of the work was the one essential 
desideratum. A particular feature of the case that — in 
truth — made these conditions an absolute necessity 
was the wholly unknown character and nature of 
the work that would have to be carried out in that 
part of the undertaking which had to pierce the rift 



section of the projected route and to tunnel through 
that deep barrier of limestone rock. 

While Browne was to carry out the broad gauge 
line for heavy traffic through the Hurnai passes, 
Colonel Lindsay, it may be mentioned, was to con- 
struct at the same time the light Bolan line. Both 
were to start from Sibi at the foot of the mountains, 
diverging there to re-unite at Quetta, the two lines 
forming an oval, with the stations of Sibi and Bostan 
at the opposite ends ; the length of the Hurnai line, 
which was never to exceed a fixed maximum gradient, 
being about double that of the Bolan, which was to 
have steeper gradients and carry only light traffic. 
The limit of the gradients of the Hurnai was fixed 
at 1 in 45 and the minimum radius for curves was 
600 feet. Browne's own sketch of Lindsay's line will 
be found in the next chapter. 

In October, 1883, Browne started his operations 
for the construction of the railway. The urgency of 
the work and of the position has been already dwelt 
on, but it may be further explained that this urgency 
was based less on the danger from any hostile features 
in the movements that had already occurred on the 
part of the Russians than on that of the strategical 
position which the Russian advance had reached 
and of the facilities it afforded for further and rapid 
aggression. They had not yet reached Merv, though 
they were approaching it. But they had coerced 
Persia on the west, and would not allow either her 
or Afghanistan on the east and south to occupy any 
longer some of the sites they had always previously 
held, and General Komaroff was now planted in the 
Tejend oasis with a brigade. The Simla Government 
judged correctly of the military significance of the 
position, and of the probability of a very sudden 


242 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

advance by the Russians in force, with the customary 
accompaniment of claims to the sovereignty of the 
tracts reached in the advance. Hence the need for 
the summary stoppage of that destruction, which had 
been going on, of the facilities for transport ; for 
fresh construction instead, for the strengthening of 
the frontier; and for vigorous progress with the 

Browne, on reaching Sibi, naturally looked forth- 
with into the existing state of matters and the pro- 
posals that had been already made for the work to 
be done ; and took a rapid trip over the route. During 
the few months of that cold weather the actual con- 
struction work that could be started — in which he was 
much hampered by official interference — had to be 
confined to the lower sections of the line, but equally 
important business work could be carried on for the 
whole line in respect of the collection of workmen and 
staff, of the designs for the bridges, and of arrange- 
ments or the supply of the ironwork from England. 
As the promised Pioneer and other regiments joined 
him, and he began to post them to their duties, there 
was at first, somewhat naturally, a tendency to minimise 
his military control ; but his tact, common sense, 
thorough military instincts, and old experiences, at 
once put matters on a sound footing. So that not 
only did no hitch ever occur in the employment of 
the troops from first to last, but it was recognised 
before long that their physique, discipline, and health 
had benefited, and their spirit was excellent. The 
strength of these troops, small at first, was shortly 
raised to that of a full brigade, and this proved to 
be no empty arrangement, from a military point, as 
some had at first expected ; for their presence did, in 
fact, actually avert and prevent any single instance 


of molestation from the wild Kakur and other 
marauding tribes of the neighbourhood. 

We have noted above the state of affairs in regard to 
the Russian advance on the north-east of Afghanistan 
during 1883, at the start and in the first year of 
Browne's work on the Hurnai ; but latterly the anxiety 
in regard thereto had begun to diminish in conse- 
quence of the arrangements now in progress for the 
formal settlement and alignment of the boundaries 
near Penjdeh. So, leaving that subject, we may turn 
to Browne's own work and describe the duties which 
he had to carry out in the course of the task before 

Its engineering features and its special difficulties 
may be first dealt with. The work and the climate 
were so exceptional that he could not assign to his 
officers any permanent charges and spheres of work ; 
for, instead of being constant, these had to change 
with the season. In the winter they were assigned 
work in the lower sections of the route ; in the 
summer they were transferred to the higher and 
cooler level, while Browne, himself seeming im- 
pervious to climatic difficulties, moved about or halted 
according as the exigencies of the work and the calls 
of his officers demanded. So serious were the diffi- 
culties, so great the breakdown in health, as will 
be shown in greater detail, so wild the country and 
so unfit for large bodies of labourers or employees, 
so overwhelming the catastrophes that occurred, that 
the pluck and determination which carried it all 
through must seem beyond all praise. 

To turn now to the engineering task before Browne. 
It may be thus described. The height above the sea 
level at the base, Sibi, is about 300 feet; at the summit 
level near Kach, 120 miles from Sibi the height is 

244 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

6,500 feet. The construction of a broad gauge line 
over so great a height in so short a distance was a 
task hitherto unknown in any part of the world, 
except in Peru, and there were, in the case of this 
particular line, certain circumstances which offered 
peculiar difficulties. The line had to traverse no 
such lovely scenery as is found in Switzerland, where 
the railway passes from one scene of Alpine peaceful- 
ness to another, where the inhabitants are industrious 
and law-abiding, and where the climate is fairly 
temperate and at least bearable and salubrious. The 
country from Sibi to Garkhai is a rugged wilder- 
ness of rocks and stone, with hardly a blade of 
grass the whole way, excepting some small patches 
near Hurnai and Sharigh, where cultivation in 1883 
extended round a few watch-towers as far as the 
range of the watchman's matchlock. There the people 
were continually engaged in plunder and intertribal 
warfare — every man's hand was against that of his 
neighbour. As regards the climate, the intense heat 
of the rocky gorges, on the lowest parts of the line, 
during the summer months, was only a little less 
endurable than the bitter cold of the upper passes 
in winter. The temperate zone of the line, near 
Hurnai and Sharigh, though enjoying a more ea A uable 
climate, w r as shunned and dreaded on account of the 
malaria and pestilence which seemed to be always 
infesting it. 

The engineering difficulties might be divided into 
four groups : (1) The Nari Gorge ; (2) the Gundakinduf 
Defile; (3) the Chuppur Rift; (4) the summit portion, 
including the Mud Gorge. 

(1) The Nari Gorge extended from the place where 
the Nari River debouches on the plains for some 
fourteen miles. The whole of this wild gorge is 


formed by the tortuous channel of the Nari River, 
a stream some 300 yards wide in flood, with a depth 
of about 10 feet and a velocity of some 5 feet a 
second. It is particularly subject to violent floods 
at irregular intervals. The railway crosses the Nari 
five times in the course of these fourteen miles, and 
at other places pursues a tortuous course round the 
bends of the gorge. 

(2) The Gundakinduf Defile is only some eight miles 
long, but involves two tunnels through most treacher- 
ous material, and four large bridges. 

(3) The Chuppur Rift is in the higher region of 
the line. It is a chasm some two and a half miles long 
joining two parallel valleys. Down this chasm, which 
in some parts is only a few yards wide and 300 feet 
high, a small stream flows over a boulder-strewn bed, 
with a longitudinal slope of 1 in 20. As the ruling 
gradient of the railway is 1 in 45, the entrance at 
the lower end had to be arranged for at a great 
height above the bed of the stream, so as to enable 
the line to issue at a proper level at the upper end. 
This work involved a crowd of tunnels (aggregating 
over a mile in length), and one large bridge 290 feet 
above the stream below. 

(4) The summit portion, some twenty-five miles in 
length, had in it the most difficult part of the line — 
viz. a length of five miles along " Mud Gorge," where 
a narrow valley between precipitous mountains, and 
with a fairly steep longitudinal 'slope, was filled with 
soil of an exceedingly treacherous nature, and of most 
irregular contour. Beyond this the rugged character 
of the mountain necessitated many heavy works, and 
a most careful examination of all possible routes, so 
as to cross the summit with the least work. 

Browne decided that during the cold weather 

246 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (i) 1882-3 

season, from October to April, attention should 
be specially directed to the works in the Nari Gorge 
and Gundakinduf Defile, while in the summer months 
the difficult portions in the higher parts of the 
line would be negotiated. It thus came to pass that 
certain of his officers were in charge of two distinct 
parts of the line, work on which (though never abso- 
lutely at a standstill) was carried on at the period of 
the year when the weather was most favourable for 

During the summer of 1884 attention was chiefly 
directed to the survey and tunnel work in the Chuppur 
Rift, the alignment of the summit portion and much 
of the earthwork there, and the survey of the last 
thirty-three miles into Quetta. There was a good 
deal of sickness, fever, and scurvy among the work- 
men and troops, but on the whole the work had 
gone on without much hindrance. 

With the autumn months and the beginning of the 
campaign new difficulties cropped up in the lower 
part of the line. Fresh troops had now come to aid 
in the work — three full battalions of Pioneers — but 
hardly had they entered on the scene when cholera 
made its dire appearance. The result was a most 
serious stoppage of the works at a time when the 
weather was lovely and most favourable for pushing 
everything on. The Afghan workmen made a regular 
stampede, followed by many skilled artisans from 
various parts of India. To replace these losses 
Captain Moncrieff was sent to collect labour in the 
Eastern Punjab, and returned on the scene with some 
two or three hundred masons and bricklayers, but 
not until grievous delays had been caused and much 
precious time wasted. Then sickness broke out 
among many of the Engineers. 



Two army corps were now warned in India for 
mobilisation at the front, near Quetta, and the rail- 
way works under Brigadier-General Browne were 
ordered to be pushed on with the utmost dispatch. 
All the three Pioneer regiments under his command 
were to assemble in the Pesheen Valley and await 
further orders. 

While in the midst of this intense pressure, Nature 
seemed to join with other forces to present difficulties 
in the progress of the works. Floods, the most violent 
and unexpected, suddenly burst upon them at the 
beginning of April, sweeping away bridges and miles 
of temporary roads, interrupting communication for 
days, rendering camping-grounds unfit for use, and 
making the supply of food most difficult. Yet the 
work went on. The Pioneer brigade assembled at its 
rendezvous with only some twenty sick out of 2,000, 
all equipped and ready for anything. 


THE H URN A I RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 


WE may now proceed with the more important 
particulars of the work, of which we have 
just given a general sketch : first touching 
again on that section of that great oval route which 
was constructed on the narrow gauge and was under 
Colonel Lindsay's charge. 

Colonel Lindsay's Bolan Railway was undertaken 
at a time when the political outlook rendered it 
necessary to mobilise a portion of the Indian army. 
The project was prepared by Colonel Lindsay, R.E., 
for laying down the rails on the surface of the Bolan 
Pass, which practically is the bed of the Bolan River, 
dry for the greater part of the year, but liable to 
floods. Colonel Lindsay was compelled to sur- 
render charge of the work on account of an accident, 
and was succeeded by Mr. O'Callaghan, CLE., by 
whom it was carried to its completion under great 
difficulties, owing to the unhealthy season of 1885. 
The line runs for the first forty miles with a fairly 
good gradient, and, although liable to be flooded in 
the lower part of the Pass, is in ordinary seasons an 
excellent working railway. The steep gradient in the 



higher part of the Pass prohibits the construction of 
a broad gauge line, and the last part is on the metre 
gauge up a very steep incline. From the top of the 
Pass, about 6,000 feet, it runs in the level up to 
Quetta. It is now proposed to substitute for this 
narrow gauge portion a broad gauge line on another 
system, a development of that with which visitors 
to the Righi are familiar,- and when this latter is 
carried out there will be two lines of broad gauge 
from India to Beloochistan. 

To turn now to Colonel Browne's line. He had 
joined at Sibi to start the arrangements and work 
in October, 1883. He had, as above stated, ar- 
ranged to organise the collection of labour, material, 
and supplies, and to begin the work itself in the lowest 
of the sections — Sibi to Nari ; to concentrate the labour 
in the warmer sections and localities in the winter, 
and to change thence to the higher and cooler spots 
in the summer. This answered perfectly, except in 
respect of outbreaks of cholera, which seemed to 
be affected less by climate than by the large gather- 
ings at various spots from time to time of troops 
and followers and Commissariat, with their attendants, 
supplies, and transport for the frontier posts at and 
about Quetta. 

We have noted that in consequence of depart- 
mental changes Browne found himself at once 
hampered by intolerable checks, interferences, and 
prohibitions. The initial auxiliary works, always 
customary as conducive to economy both of time and 
money, such as tram lines, rolling stock, etc., were 
prohibited, leading at once to an enormous loss, 
owing to the consequent unavoidable substitution 
of camel carriage. Even the acquisition and use of 
the juniper forests, which provided the only wood 

250 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

that grew in those parts, were disallowed, however 
judicious the arrangement, and however acceptable 
to the people. In every sort of point, in fact, which 
should be left to the chief Engineer and in which he 
should have a free hand, he was dealt with as if only 
an executive — nay, as if only an assistant — Engineer, 
and was kept under inquisition and restrained by 
orders from an unskilled and unqualified control, 
with the natural results of delay and expense and 
confusion. There was even much time lost, from 
the same cause, before he was supplied with instru- 
ments or survey appliances, though this surveying 
(preparatory to designing and estimating the opera- 
tion) was obviously as essential work as any that there 
could be, at the start. 

After, however, Browne had joined his work and 
found that his masters were changed, and that he 
was likely to have to think more of his estimates, he 
suited his arrangements and work to the state of 
the case, and sent in the customary " preliminary 
sketch estimates " without any avoidable delay. 
But, at the same time, he stated and showed first 
that, without any doubt whatever, these were of no 
value at all ; and next that no estimates could, by 
any possibility, be prepared that would at all be 
a useful guide to the eventual cost until close on 

At the outset, however, the interference described 
did not last for more than the first three months. In that 
time, owing to Browne's energy, good communica- 
tion was made up to the first point of serious difficulty; 
and in six months—/.*?, by the end of March, 1884, 
when the weather began to get hot — three tunnels 
were in full progress, the foundations of numerous 
bridges had been securely laid, contracts for work 



and machinery had been entered into, and enormous 
quantities of rock work had been carried out. But, 
as will be seen, the interference was afterwards 
resumed, and with greater virulence. 

It has been shown that the arrangements and 
understanding which were agreed to by the Govern- 
ment before Browne left Simla to start the work of the 
line included this provision— that he was to push on 
the line as rapidly as possible without waiting for the 
estimates. It had all been fully discussed, and there 
was no sort of doubt about the meaning of the in- 
struction or understanding. There was not to be any 
omission or neglect of estimating— and, in fact, there 
were estimates framed from the very beginning, but 
undeniably these were quite useless — and, under the 
political exigencies of the case, speed in the construc- 
tion of the line was the primary and essential 
necessity, estimates and similar matters of ordinary 
departmental routine being left to be carried out as 
speedily as the circumstances of such an exceptional 
case might admit. These instructions were frequently 
repeated to him from high quarters, from time to time, 
as a bona fide, though not official matter. 

There was difficulty again raised later on about this 
preparation of estimates ; for the whole nature of the 
work, and of the route even, when once finally known, 
with its miles of tunnels, made it quite certain that it 
must be impossible to foresee at any time what the 
details of the works with their invisible sites must be, 
or to prepare, until close on completion, estimates 
that could serve any useful purpose, or give a clue 
to the eventual cost. This subject is dealt with later 
on separately, in order to prevent its interfering with 
the general narrative of the work. With these re- 
marks we quit here the subject of the estimates. 

252 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

To turn to the work itself, the Hurnai line was one 
that involved many classes of engineering difficulties, 
which have been already indicated, and may be 
summed up as follows : 

The known difficulties lay in the inaccessibility 
of the sites both generally and in detail ; the gravity 
and variety of the engineer work involved, and the 
impossibility of examining and realising its details 
beforehand ; the barren, mountainous, and desert 
character of the route of the line ; the wild and war- 
like character of the sparse population that occupied 
it ; the necessity for importing everything, whether 
in the shape of supplies, of labour, or of material 
and machinery ; the narrowness and depth of the 
defiles ; the force and fluctuations of the rivers and 
torrents that traversed them ; the want of space ; the 
excessive graduations of height ; and lastly, the great 
variations of temperature, which severely affected the 

Besides these there were the unknown difficulties 
that eventually developed and are dealt with at 
greater length farther on ; arising from the ex- 
cessive rainfall and the consequent floods sweeping 
away the works and plant time after time, especially 
in the earlier stages ; and then the outbreaks of 
sickness, such as virulent and continuous cholera, 
fever, and scurvy. These epidemics were brought 
about, it is supposed, or at any rate increased, by 
the great gatherings of Commissariat cattle and of 
troops and their followers, in the roads and grounds 
in the near neighbourhood, at and en route to Quetta, 
in expectation of war. 

But engineering difficulties were not the only ones 
encountered in this great undertaking. On a line which 
runs from nearly one of the hottest parts in India, only a 


little above the level of the sea, to a height some thou- 
sands of feet greater than that of any railway in the 
world, great extremes of heat and cold were unavoid- 
ably experienced. The thermometer has been known 
to register in the Nari Valley as much as 11 8° Fahr. 
in the house, while on the higher part of the work 
it has been as low as 18 below zero in the verandah 
during the winter. The cold was so great as to 
prevent the laying of the permanent way, rails 
snapping from the frost. 

Political and military difficulties were also expected, 
but they did not arise, or at any rate prove serious ; 
which was probably due, in a measure at least, to 
Browne's special and mysterious influence with the 
natives, and especially the Ghilzyes. 

To these must be further added those very serious 
difficulties that were from time to time occasioned 
by climatic and special causes. 

In August and September, 1884, the last months 
of the first year of work — a very early stage of 
the enterprise — came, alas ! the first great check to 
progress — in the appearance of a regular plague of 
sickness, fever, and scurvy (but not cholera) among 
the workpeople and the staff, of whom large numbers 
died, while the rest w T ere so prostrated as to be fit 
for very little work. Sixty per cent., for instance, 
of the Sappers were in the hospital. 

Then in November, the beginning of the second 
year of work, matters grew from bad to worse, and 
severe cholera appeared ; labour was greatly weakened, 
and all the Afghans deserted ! This cholera reap- 
peared in the following May (1885) and spread 
severely, Captain Ewen Cameron, R.E., a very valu- 
able officer on the Bolan Road, falling a victim to 
it. On the Hurnai itself Mr. Sullivan, the bridging 

254 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

contractor, Mr. Phillips, a New York engineer in 
charge of the tunnelling apparatus, and the platelaying 
contractor, Mr. Barnes — all these valuable engineers 
of the line and many others died and were lost to 
the work. This great sickness continued in June, 
in which month fourteen out of twenty-four officers 
were crushed with fever; while some whole classes 
of employees, such as the telegraph and post office 
clerks, fled in a body, and work was stopped for 
the time. After a while these exceptionally serious 
epidemics ceased ; the milder customary illnesses, 
however, continuing as a matter of course. 

But in this same year, 1885, the second year of 
excessive sickness, there appeared another great and 
unexpected cause of loss, delay, and trouble, in the 
occurrence of floods of unheard-of force. They began 
early in the year, and were due to a continuous 
rainfall during its first three months, far exceeding 
any that had been experienced for sixty years. Till 
then the average of the usual rainfall for four months 
had been 3 inches. In 1883 it had been 2*28 
inches, and in 1884 it had been 4*89 inches; but in 
this year, 1885, it amounted in those three months 
to 19*27 inches, or 8 J times what was expected ! A 
veritable deluge ! 

The last of the heavy floods that consequently 
ensued lasted for six days in April. It swept 
away several bridges and many miles of temporary 
roads, caused numerous accidents, and did an infinity 
of mischief, destroying camping-grounds, giving rise 
to malaria, and stopping the supply of food. 

Then after an interval of five weeks the floods 
again came down, more severe than ever ; the tempor- 
ary bridges that had been erected were swept away, 
and the line was cut in two ; and this state of sue- 



cessive catastrophes went on without cessation till 
the end of May. Then, however, it stopped, and 
nothing so serious ever occurred again. 

The Press occasionally showed its wisdom and 
knowledge, and suggested that Browne might have 
foreseen these floods— " The veriest tyro would 
be expected to know of their annual occurrence ! " 
Obviously there are floods and floods! 

Some personal sketches of the work may now be 
conveniently given, occasionally including some of 
Browne's, but arranged chiefly with regard to the 
order of the route. 

" General Features. — A railway which starts at 
a level of about 500 feet above the sea, and rises to 
an elevation of 6,800 feet, must necessarily present 
great difficulties in execution ; besides, the features of 
this inhospitable region are exceptionally formidable. 
Just beyond the little village of Nari, a few miles 
from Sibi, the first of the great difficulties on the 
line had to be encountered. Here three considerable 
streams unite to form the Nari, and, although having 
but little water in ordinary seasons, are torrents in 
time of flood, filling up the whole gorge for some 
miles, and involving an immense quantity of heavy 
embankments, tunnels, and cuttings. Yet for many 
months the work of the engineers halted, as their 
half-complete embankments, with the staging and 
scaffolding of their bridges, were washed away, and 
until the line could be completed through this 
gorge, permanent way and other materials could not 
be carried forward to the upper part of the line. 
This is one of the most weird tracts through which 
a railway has ever been carried. The hills, absolutely 
bare, rise above the valley for many thousands of feet 
in fantastic pinnacles and cliffs. It is a scene of 
wildest desolation. 

"At Kuchali also a very dangerous tunnel had to 
be made. So many casualties occurred, owing to the 
tunnel falling in, that at last no workmen could be 
got to enter it, except at a rate of wage fivefold 
that of even the high rate prevailing on the line. 

256 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

"The Chuppur Rift. — The Nari gorge traversed, 
the line ascends along a mountain valley present- 
ing no difficulties greater than are ordinarily met 
with in mountain lines until the Chuppur Rift is 
reached, a curious freak of nature which will cer- 
tainly before long become a favourite place of interest 
for Indian tourists. Here the great spurs of a 
rocky mountain many hundred feet in height cross 
the drainage of the country and present apparently 
a perfectly insuperable barrier. On close approach 
there appears, however, a great rift transverse to 
the line of mountain, several hundred feet high, 
and with just width enough for laden camels to 
pass along the stony bed, through which the waters 
there, from what might have been an extensive lake, 
now find their way. In dry seasons the bottom 
of the rift presents merely the appearance of a very 
narrow rocky stream, difficult but not impracticable 
for a horseman ; but in floods a grand volume of water 
rushes through with a depth of from 30 to 40 feet. 
The character of the rock forbids the idea of traversing 
it by means of a ledge, and the plan adopted was 
that of two lines of continuous tunnels, one on each 
side of the rift, ending at points opposite and on a 
level with each other, where they are connected 
and the rift is spanned by an iron girder bridge. To 
have constructed these tunnels in the ordinary way 
from either end would have involved a great expendi- 
ture of time ow T ing to the extreme hardness of the 
rock, and it was determined to effect the task by 
means of the combination of a number of adits or 
approaches or short tunnels from the precipitous sides 
of the rift, with the interior passages, and it is in the 
construction of these that the engineers and workmen 
were called on to display a degree of physical courage 
as great as is ever needed in any operation of life. 
The only way of making these adits or subsidiary 
tunnels was by letting down workmen with ropes 
from the top of the cliff several hundred feet above 
the point of operation. The first man down had to 
gain a footing by driving a crowbar into the perpen- 
dicular wall ; after the first crowbar others were driven 
in, and then a platform was erected from which 
blasting operations could begin. So singular and 
difficult a piece of engineering has probably seldom 


or never been accomplished before, and the name 
1 of the gallant officer, Captain Buchanan Scott, who 
led the way in this perilous task, deserves per- 
petual record in connection with the work. Six 
openings were made on one side of the cliff for one 
tunnel and six on the other, and galleries driven into 
them till points were reached from where the main 
tunnel could be constructed right and left, so that 
the work could be carried on by fourteen separate 
gangs ; and in this way the whole tunnel was blasted 
out in a few months. 

" Louise Margaret Bridge. — The tunnel completed, 
there remained the erection of the girder, and this is 
about 220 feet above the bed of the gorge. The 
erection of it was not the least of the difficulties 
overcome by the ingenuity and energy of General 
Browne and Captain Scott. This is the bridge which 
was opened by H.R.H. the Duchess of Connaught, the 
first lady, we believe, who ever visited the spot, and 
was named " Louise Margaret " in her honour. The 
elevation of the Chuppur Rift is about 5,300 feet or 
one mile above the sea ; from thence the line rises 
with a ruling gradient of 1 in 45 till the summit level 
of 6,800 feet is reached, first, however, passing through 
another very difficult point known as Mud Gorge. 
Here the difficulty is not rock, but a mountain mass 
which is little better than hard mud, which had already 
made several bad slips carrying away the whole of 
the line, and threatening more slips in the future. 
It will be some time before the regime of Mud Gorge 
will be thoroughly established, and the line attain a 
tone of durability." 

Another sketch runs thus : 

"From the summit level of 6,800 feet the line descends 
to the rocky pass or gorge of Garkhai, 5,700 feet, where 
it emerges on the elevated tableland of Pesheen, and 
thence proceeds on a fairly level line to the foot of 
the Khwaja Amran range, which separates Pesheen 
from Afghanistan. At Bostan, twenty miles from 
Garkhai, a branch runs back to Quetta twenty miles, 
and on the top of the Bolan Pass twenty-five miles 
farther on." 


258 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

A third sketch is as follows : 

" The greater part of the country traversed is almost 
without inhabitants, who do not grow enough food 
for their own consumption. For miles and miles 
there is no scene of vegetation, so that the whole of 
the workmen had to be fed by supplies brought from 
a distance, and the feeding of the large gangs, who 
averaged about 30,000 men on the works for many 
months, had to be arranged for. The popular notion 
that malaria is due to vegetation in tropical countries 
is dispelled on learning that these desolate tracts, 
without a bush or blade of grass, have been the scene 
of fever surpassing in virulence anything within 
ordinary Indian experience. The whole line of the 
work is dotted with stones to mark the graves of the 
unfortunate wretches whom the high wages offered 
have attracted from their homes in India or Afghanistan. 
In one gang of 200 workmen the deaths from fever 
for a long time were recorded at the average rate 
of ten per day. In other words, the whole gang would 
have died out, if not renewed, in about three months. 
It is almost needless to add that the European 
engineers have had no immunit}' from illness ; many 
have left with shattered constitution, and those that 
remain are all more or less worn out by sickness, 
fatigue, and climate." 

Further remarks are not needed in regard to the 
construction of the line, and we may therefore now 
revert to the subject of the estimates, which have 
been already touched on. 

On this subject " it would," Browne had said, " be 
as impossible for me to estimate what the Hurnai 
Railway would cost as it would be for Lord Salisbury 
to estimate what it might cost England to go to 
war with Russia." Having examined the route and 
considered the nature of the ground and localities 
involved, he had come with perfect justice and 
sound wisdom to this conclusion and announced it 



The subject is too technical to deal with fully in 
these pages; but it may be said at once that, as in spite 
of all Browne's statements and their support by his 
professional superiors some of the very high officials 
were not satisfied with the absence of any estimate 
on which they could rely for guidance, an inquiry 
was instituted in 1886, and the experts engaged made 
a report which, instead of censuring, led to com- 
mendation, and to Browne being honoured with the 

The worry and anxiety all this had entailed on 
Browne, when already burdened with the tremendous 
difficulties of his task, cannot be adequately de- 
scribed, and would probably have crushed any one 
else. To those who were then cognisant of the state 
of matters it was a marvel that he could bear up 
against it as he did. 

But a few further remarks regarding the estimates 
so persistently demanded, in spite of Browne's state- 
ments and explanation, may perhaps be usefully added. 
The estimates which he said he could not then 
prepare are what are technically called detailed 
estimates, in which the cost of each work or item 
is shown, arrived at by giving the dimensions and 
then multiplying the quantities of work involved 
by the rates at which it is assumed such work can 
be carried out. This is simple and straightforward 
when the dimensions are certain and the rates well 
known or settled by contract ; but it is quite other- 
wise when, as in the present case, the sites of the 
individual works, their details, their foundations, the 
character of the rocks to be tunnelled, and all such 
data for guidance in the engineering were entirely 
wanting at first and could become known only as the 
several works progressed. In addition to this were 

26o THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

the repetitions of work that were made necessary 
by the floods and similar causes. In such circum- 
stances it does not require an expert to realise that 
no estimates could be prepared on which reliance 
could be placed. All that was possible was to send 
in "completion reports" showing the actual cost of 
completed portions of work. 

Browne's case, it may be said, reminds one, as to 
the inquisitor's pressure put upon him, of Keats's 
lines — 

Half ignorant, he turns an easy wheel, 

That sets sharp racks at work to pinch and feel. 

The worry was continuous. Browne had submitted 
in December, 1884, an approximate estimate for 
261 \ lakhs, and urged that, with work going on at 
high pressure, no more detailed estimates could be 
drawn much before the actual completion of the line. 
The reply of the Government was, " The prosecution 
of the railway is of the first importance. Consequently 
the works must not be interfered with by the preparation 
of estimates." In spite of this, the pressure from his 
immediate superior was maintained, while all the 
time frequent commendations were bestowed by 
the Secretary of State and the Government of India 
on General Browne and his staff for the rapid 
progress made. 

It was admitted that if war had broken out in 
1887, the line would have more than compensated 
for any excess of cost. Short staff for the special 
non-engineering duties caused most of the difficulties 
complained of — no local auditor, inadequate account 
office, staff for stores inadequate. The conclusion 
of the report was, " Great credit is due to the 
Engineer-in-chief and his staff for the rapidity with 
which they have pushed on the work, notwith- 


standing the difficulties of every description." Such 
was the judgment of the highest officials of the 
Government of India, who thanked them for their 
able and comprehensive report. 

Some further pertinent facts bearing on the un- 
due departure by the officials from the bona fide 
understanding on which Browne's work was being 
conducted may be now given. These are the out- 
come not of any statements from Browne, but of 
the investigations of the most cognisant and capable 
Engineer officials under the Government. The cir- 
cumstances, if they did not altogether account for 
such irregularities as had occurred, at any rate very 
largely excused them. The extreme urgency of the 
case was evidenced by the action of Government, 
and by its orders clearly anticipating the immediate 
commencement of work. It was not surprising that 
after reading the letters General Browne thought 
more of progress than of estimates. If he set to work 
forthwith to align the road and start operations, 
he would have no time for estimating. At first, 
too, Browne had under him few but inexperienced 
officers, ignorant of the language, etc. In April, 
1884, the Secretary of State had telegraphed in- 
structions for pressing on the work, and the Govern- 
ment had replied so as to show that they regarded 
it as of pressing necessity that the lower section 
of the road should be completed in the next six 
months. In November, 1884, the Secretary of State 
wired, "When will the line be completed?" to 
which the answer sent (Browne's) was, " With 
money freely granted, in two and a half years " — a 
promise, it may be noted, redeemed by the fact that 
the engines ran over the line in two years and 
six months. 

262 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

As time progressed, the fame of these stupendous 
works attracted the attention of tourists and others 
of eminence, who could speak with weight, and the 
works were much visited in 1886. Browne's old 
friend and commander, Sir Donald Stewart, had seen 
and been much interested in them, and had shown him- 
self greatly pleased at the splendid health, physique, 
and high spirits of the men, as well as their militar}' 
smartness and discipline. One of the visitors was the 
correspondent of a leading London journal ; and he, 
after five days of close inspection of the works, com- 
mented on the contrast between what he had before 
heard and what he had now seen of the line, especially 
of the Chuppur Rift, which " completely exceeded his 
wildest imaginings of what human skill and energy 
could do ! " Another visitor was Lord Rosebery, who, 
besides examining and discussing the railway, referred 
to frontier questions, about which his eyes (as he 
seemed to admit) were opened in a way which he 
had not expected ; and who also appeared to be 
specially struck with the interest and enthusiasm of 
the officers and men in the work — "Their soul seemed 
to be in it." Just so ! 

During 1886 the sickness and difficulties that had 
been troubling the work were not so mischievous 
as before, and it had now progressed rapidly. Towards 
the end of the year it was hoped that the line might 
be opened on February 14th following — Jubilee Day 
in India — but the opening ceremony did not come 
off till March 27th, when the Chuppur Bridge was 
finished, and an engine ran over the whole line from 
Sibi to Quetta. 

A very distinguished company, including the Duke 
of Connaught and Lord Roberts, were present to 
witness that ceremony, and it was performed by 


H.R.H. the Duchess of Connaught, who named the 
bridge, and after presiding over a very pleasant 
meeting desired Browne to address the natives for 
her, and express her gratification with the great 
work — the grandest in India. 

The story which has now been told of the con- 
struction of the Hurnai Railway has included such 
matters as the overwhelming floods, the devastating 
epidemics and pestilence, and other material difficulties 
—some of them quite exceptional and unexpected — 
with which Browne had to contend ; and it will 
be recognised how severe a task it was to deal with 
them and how great a feat to overcome them so 
successfully as he did. But, in addition to these, he 
was further oppressed by the official troubles, as 
explained. We have now to deal only with the con- 
cluding episodes, which lay in the clearing up of the 
misunderstandings that still existed in the mind of 
the Viceroy, and with the authorities in England ; 
all due primarily to the error that still prevailed — 
respecting the exceptional arrangement on which 
the enterprise had been started — having never been 
properly corrected. 

The Viceroy, Lord Dufferin, had never seen the 
work, but had been much troubled with the apparent 
muddle in its official management, and it was primarily 
essential to disabuse him of any erroneous impressions 
he may have formed. The work had been started 
before he entered on the viceroyalty, and it was there- 
fore possible that he was quite unaware of the special 
features of the case — particularly those of its earlier 
days ; he was, moreover, deprived latterly of the 
sound guidance of Sir Donald Stewart, who alone 
had a correct and thorough knowledge of the cir- 
cumstances and understandings on which the work 

264 THE HURNAI RAILWAY: (ii) 1883-7 

had been started, but had left India, and joined the 
Council in London, when Browne's difficulties were 
becoming serious. 

Browne's furlough had been sanctioned, but before 
taking advantage of it he turned off immediately after 
the opening ceremony to interview Lord Dufferin, 
whom he found in a very dissatisfied state of mind. 
Learning that he had been very seriously misled as 
to the facts, Browne at first caused much irritation 
by affirming this to be the case ; but remaining cool 
and firm, he was at length enabled to state specifically 
the initial and crucial circumstances of which the 
Viceroy had evidently had no knowledge whatever. 
Browne had carefully kept all demi-official letters, 
and now produced those he had received telling him 
to adopt the very line of action for which he had been 
latterly taken to task. This was a startling revelation, 
and at once swept away the mistaken ideas that Lord 
Dufferin had formed. With his eyes thus opened, 
having arrived at a true understanding of the case, 
he corrected the tenour of his former communication 
to England, and supported very warmly the repre- 
sentations Browne made to the home authorities 
on reaching London. 

Browne's arrival in England was at a happy epoch 
— the first jubilee of the Queen. He was heartily 
received at the India Office, and his services and 
those of his staff were warmly acknowledged. He 
was now a persona grata in high quarters, and re- 
ceived the K.C.S.I. 

The Gazettes testified to the great self-sacrifice 
displayed, the grave and disheartening difficulties 
successfully overcome under circumstances which 
have seldom had a parallel, and tendered the thanks 
of the Government to Browne and his staff. 


During all 1888 he enjoyed his well-earned holiday 
— and had a thorough rest, though not an idle one. 
He was ever engaged on some subject of public in- 
terest; and then, in 1889, he was selected by Lord 
Roberts for the post of Quartermaster-General of 
the army in India — the first officer of his corps who 
had ever been admitted into that very close borough, 
the army staff at headquarters in its highest posts. 

Lord Dufferin afterwards went over the line him- 
self towards the end of the year, having till then 
been prevented from doing so by other engagements. 

While engaged on his work, Browne, it may be 
remarked, in continuation of what has been already 
said about his double, was being constantly greeted 
as the Mukkur hajee, the old assumption being con- 
tinued by his Ghilzye admirers that it was not for 
them to comment on his having become a Sahib. 
In fact, their original ideas had become more and 
more strengthened and confirmed by the apparently 
permanent disappearance of the real Mullah himself 
from Mukkur and that neighbourhood. 




^"T^HE urgency of the work described in the two 

I preceding chapters has been strongly and re- 
peatedly expressed, but it may be useful to state 
more explicitly the causes of the anxiety. They were 
twofold : first, the actually threatening movements and 
the false and treacherous statements of the Russians 
in the neighbourhood of Merv ; and second, the weak 
attitude of Lord Granville and the British Government. 

The more recent measures and the position of the 
Russians in Turkestan must be first described. 
Hitherto they had already been present in some 
force on the Tejend oasis. But now their engineer, 
Lessar, had been reconnoitring ahead, to examine 
into the alleged difficulty or obstacle in the farther 
progress of the Russians, said to lie in an extensive 
rocky range, an alleged " Parapomisus." He had found 
that this was a myth and that there was no physical 
obstacle of any gravity existing to the onward move 
of the Russian force. So now the Russians took 
possession of Merv and followed up the step by 
reconnaissances farther ahead. 

All this was in clear violation of the existing 
agreement and understanding between Russia and 


England, which in three successive stages had 
definitely drawn the limit of the Russian advance at 
a line from Khoja Saleh to Sarakhs, and had affirmed 
the deserts beyond it to be Turkoman territory, 
and outside their own zone. But now comes in the 
Russian practice of a Government composed of 
apparently disconnected and independent, but at the 
same time thoroughly autocratic, sections of admini- 
stration or authority. The diplomats said one thing 
and used their own maps, the commanders in the 
front had theirs — quite different — while the Russian 
staff at headquarters had still another set, which, 
in spite of M. de Giers' statements to Lord Granville, 
laid down the boundary of the zone far south of 
Sarakhs, on the banks of the Murghab, where they 
were able to begin tampering with the Salik Turkomans 
of Penjdeh. All this aggressive action led, as usual, 
to Lord Granville giving up point after point, and 
then in April, 1884, when Browne was at the end 
of his first half-year's experience of the work of 
the Hurnai, arranging for a formal meeting at the 
disputed site, to settle the matter, in the following 

General Lumsden, with a suitable escort and staff, 
was to be in charge of the English party for the 
work of delimitation, and the point or area from 
which most anxiety w T as felt was said to be between 
the rivers Hurirud and Murghab. But the Russians 
pressed for the first steps being at Khoja Saleh; 
and though Lumsden and his party and the Afghan 
representatives were all ready by the appointed time, 
the Russian local authorities, General Zelenoi, Dondou- 
koff, and Korsakoff, put off the matter time after time, 
on the score of illness and other pretexts, so as to 
postpone it till after the winter of 1884-5. The 


object of this was revealed in due course. It was 
in order to give time for the arrival in the immediate 
neighbourhood of large reinforcements, so as to bring 
superior military strength to bear on the question 
of the position of the boundary that was to be laid 
down ; and the first sign of this definite intention 
was shown in the seizure of the position of Pul-i- 
Khatun, and the advance to Penjdeh, which was 
Afghan territory. A glance at the map will show 
how this position stands in relation to Sarakhs, the 
avowed limit of the Russian advance. 

Then during all January, 1885, the Russian, the 
Afghan, and the British detachments continued to 
occupy the positions they were holding at the end 
of 1884 preparatory to the start of the demarcation of 
the Russo-Afghan boundary, for which they had been 
gathered. But in February a party of Cossacks of the 
Russian force, eluding the Afghan detachments, crossed 
the prescribed boundary, advanced three miles beyond 
it, and held the point thus attained. Then additional 
Cossack detachments occupied some other neighbour- 
ing posts in advance, and were followed on March 16th 
by a body of Russians. In spite of these glaring 
insults and breaches of agreement, Mr. Gladstone 
accepted the position ; the natural result being further 
treacherous movements of the Russians, leading, on 
March 30th, to the conflict at Penjdeh between the 
Russians and the Afghans, the Russians being under 
the command of General Komaroff. 

This outrage exceeded the limits of even Mr. 
Gladstone's complaisance ; the question was acknow- 
ledged to be one not of debatable frontiers, but 
of national honour, and the declaration of war seemed 
imminent. The Czar declined to allow any investi- 
gation into KomarofFs conduct, but proposed the 


arbitration of a friendly sovereign. This was accepted, 
and the result was an adjournment, to which the 
Ameer heartily agreed. But even after this the 
Russians on the spot continued aggressive, and it is 
quite uncertain how the matter might have ended ; 
but fortunately the Gladstone Ministry resigned and 
Lord Salisbury accepted office. His firm tone and 
his resolute character entirely changed the attitude 
of the Czar and his satellites, and his dictum sufficed. 
Russia dropped the game of brag, Lord Salisbury's 
ruling and alignment were accepted, and all differ- 
ences ended in the demarcation being forthwith begun 
and carried out, partly in that year, 1885, and partly 
afterwards. Hitches, of course, occurred at various 
points from time to time, but the Russian attitude 
was changed, and all was eventually settled amicably, 
successive difficulties as they arose being smoothed 
away by the good temper and shrewdness of the 
Ameer and by his personal presence on the spot. 

Meanwhile the Penjdeh incident of March 30th, 1885, 
by which time Browne had been hard at work on 
the Hurnai for eighteen months, had roused Lord 
Dufferin, Sir Donald Stewart, and the Indian Govern- 
ment into prompt and vigorous action. Preparations 
were made for the movement of large forces to the 
assistance of Afghanistan, both by the Khyber and 
by Candahar. Lord Roberts was summoned for this 
purpose from his command at Madras ; the Cutchee 
Plain and the roads to Quetta and onward were filled 
with troops and transport ; and both the road and 
the railroad through the Bolan were pressed vigor- 
ously, and a permanent addition of 20,000 men to 
the British army in India was also arranged for. 

The attitude of the country was now very different 
from what it had been in Lord Lytton's time. The 


present movement was in support of a native power 
and not an attack on it; and the real sense of the 
situation, as felt by the Government, was evinced 
by their free admission of Russian officers, then 
travelling in India, to the army manoeuvres at Delhi 
early in 1886. 

Before this, w T hile Browne had been carrying on 
his work on the Hurnai, and the events that have 
been described had been taking place, Lord Ripon 
had left India, and his successor, Lord Dufferin, sup- 
ported by Sir Donald Stewart, had been working 
in full concert with the Ameer at the preparations 
for such immediate and prompt action as might be 
necessary for opposition to Russian aggression. 
They had been joined by Lord Roberts from the 
Madras command ; and, while a sharp outlook was 
being kept up at Peshawur, and the Hurnai line was 
being carried on with desperate energy, troops were 
being gathered and all the necessary preparations 
were being made about Quetta for an advance thence 
to Candahar. The Quetta railway Engineers were 
vigorously at work, and an ordinary road, with the 
bridges needed for the numerous crossings and 
vagaries of the Bolan River, was being rapidly pushed 
by the energetic Engineer of Quetta, Colonel Tomkins. 
And while all this was going on w T e were again 
at loggerheads with that very unsatisfactory monarch, 
the King of Burma. Browne's old commander in 
Egypt, Sir Herbert Macpherson, had at first the 
charge of the operations against him, but died before 
they were completed. They were, however, speedily 
carried out with thorough success by his successor, 
Sir Harry Prendergast, R.E. 

By the time that Browne had finished the Hurnai 
most of the troubles noted were at an end; but 



the movements of Russia, however much they had 
been affected by Lord Salisbury's vigour, had not 
only created a state of matters that required a 
thorough settlement, but had laid bare, in an un- 
mistakable manner, the weaknesses of the British 
India position, and led to the unavoidable conclusion, 
even to a Gladstonian Cabinet, of the need of a 
thoroughly sound and effective system of material 
defences and military preparations, as well as measures 
of policy, on the north-west frontiers of India. 

The last chapter mentioned Browne's appointment 
to the post of Quartermaster-General when the end of 
his furlough was approaching, and also how greatly 
he was occupied during the whole time he was in 
England with important subjects connected with 
India. Among those with whom he was brought 
into close contact, at one time or another, were Lord 
Roberts, the Commander-in-chief in India, and Sir 
George Chesney, his colleague as military member 
of the Council. And both of them were anxious that 
he should become Quartermaster-General of the army 
when General Chapman, who at that time held the 
post, vacated it in ordinary course. 

Such an appointment would, it may be observed, be 
an entire innovation, upsetting all traditional usages 
under which the post had lain in what may be styled 
the closest of close boroughs, and had been obtained 
only by rising, as Lord Roberts had himself done, 
through the several successive grades of the depart- 
ment till the highest post in it was reached. But 
Browne's career had marked him out as an excep- 
tional character, more especially during the last few 

These particular antecedents may be noted. Towards 
the end of 1887 many inquiries and schemes that had 


been incubating for some years came to a close or 
to a decisive stage. One of these was the work of the 
Defence Committee of India, and another the special 
question of the defence of the Quetta frontier towards 
Candahar. Browne had been closely connected with 
both these inquiries ; and latterly, while still on the 
Hurnai, he had been specially consulted in regard 
to the problem of the Quetta frontier. The ground 
involved was the field in which he had been engaged 
in Biddulph's and Sir Donald Stewart's advance to 
Candahar, including as it did the two passes — the 
Khojak and the Gwaja — through what was known 
as the Khwaja Amran range. Sir G. Chesney and 
Browne had visited the spot together and seen the 
progress of the tunnel that had been started on the 
Khojak ; and now, when they were both in London, 
they had tackled the subject again, but from other 
points of view. Lord Roberts had already consulted 
Browne, as above noted, while he was still at the 
Hurnai, and had elicited from him the following 

His theory was clear. He fully recognised the 
absolute necessity of fortifying some position which 
an invading enemy could not avoid, and which could 
be made an obstacle of such strength and such expan- 
sion that it could neither be captured nor turned. He 
agreed with the positions proposed ; but in regard 
to the general scheme he objected to the use of huge 
forts or extensive fortifications, preferring a system 
of extemporised works, taking advantage of natural 
obstacles, defensive lines, and the interlacing of roads 
and railroads for facility of communication. So that 
an enemy should find on its path extemporised 
Plevnas, when least expected. 

" Study the country," he added, " have your positions 



selected, and the moment it is necessary, run up 
extemporised entrenchments." With rocky ground, 
such as abounded there, he would prepare galleries 
in the rocks ready to be turned into embrasures of 
batteries, invisible until wanted and brought into use. 
Nor, he thought, need this be costly ; for his experi- 
ence of tunnel work gave him a much truer knowledge 
of the expense of such preparations than could be 
possessed by mere theorists. Forts, he held, placed 
at other than absolutely obligatory points, had merely 
to be avoided or circumvented. They simply told 
an enemy " what not to do and where not to go." 

Advantage also was taken at the same time of his 
intimate local knowledge to discuss and settle many 
points respecting routes and passes, such as the 
Khojak, the Machai, and others. 

Besides the measures for the Khojak, Browne had 
also very strong views on the necessity of making 
Nushki an obligatory point on the railway to 
Candahar, if only to enable a concentration of troops 
and munitions to be made there in the event of any 
flank movements from the elbow of the Helmund, as 
its great bend is called. 

The Nushki position and the ridge of the Khwaja 
Amran range would be readily fortified, with posts 
to command the passes, with good military roads 
connecting the several points and the railways, in 
rear, and concentrating all the resources of India in 
support. An enemy, on the other hand, would have 
to traverse a barren plain, about eighty miles in 
width, wholly destitute of forage or the means of 
supporting a large number of troops — and in which 
any large movements of troops could be discerned 
from the range at the distance of about twelve miles ; 
the range would be impregnable. 



The importance of Nushki he held to be the para- 
mount feature of the scheme ; as without some such 
complete measures as those advocated there would be 
grave possibilities of an enemy's approach, when 
very serious consequences might ensue. But with 
such arrangements carried out, as above proposed, 
the facilities for further measures, and the fidelity of 
Beloochistan, would be ensured. The local proverb 
is that " the Helmund district is the waist of Beloo- 
chistan," and nothing could be imagined to clasp it 
more strongly than a railway girdle from Nushki, 
with an entrenched camp in advance. 

In support of these views Browne said in another 
document that, while recognising the importance of 
the Khojak Tunnel, he held the Nushki line to be of 
equal, in fact of paramount necessity. He pointed 
out further, in support of this, that the speed of the 
construction of the Nushki line could be counted on 
with much greater confidence than that of the Khojak 
Tunnel, and he adduced other reasons in support, 
which need not be mentioned here. Hearty unison 
with the Beloochees and the securing of their entire 
confidence was one of the strongest bases of his 
views. It could act and be sufficient of itself, but 
would also tend to facilitate similar good-will from 
the Afghans. 

The importance and correctness of these views 
became evident in later days, when, as a fact, the 
details of the frontier position beyond the farther 
end of the Khojak Tunnel caused much unpleasant- 
ness with the Ameer — an unfortunate matter, as 
raising doubts on the propriety of our action. For 
the Ameer had not been a touchy or over-sensitive 
ally when the aspect of our relations with Russia 
had been very threatening. 



In all these discussions and arguments Browne 
enunciated his own views, whether they did or did 
not agree with the report of the Defence Committee ; 
and it may be reasonably assumed that his views had 
much to do with his selection for the post he was 
now to hold. 




IN the preceding chapter the circumstances leading 
to Browne's appointment have been described, and 
it may again be observed that it was an innova- 
tion in more ways than one. It was the first time that 
Browne had ever been employed on military duties 
or in a military department except in actual warfare ; 
and still more, it was the first time that any R.E., any 
officer of his corps, had ever been employed in the 
Quartermaster-General's Department. But though the 
department and the army were doubtless surprised, 
there was no sign of any cavilling or questioning in 
regard to the appointment, for Browne's merits and 
capacity were universally known and acknowledged. 
At the same time, it was at once surmised that his 
conduct of the duties of the post would be much 
more rough-and-ready than was customary, and 
would somewhat strain the orthodox conformity 
with rules and regulations heretofore so rigidly 
adhered to. 

But, somewhat autocratic as he might be as to 
the interpretation of rules, he conformed to them 




thoroughly in spirit, especially when there was no 
doubt about them, and when it was a personal question 
and not one of work. Such a case — and a very 
unique one— was now involved. Ever since he ap- 
peared on the scene in India, Browne had been almost 
identified by his beard ; but Lord Roberts required 
in his special staff the strictest conformity with regu- 
lations, and beards were not in order, even when 
worn by one of the most distinguished occupants of 
the post. So Browne's beard was doffed, with this 
result, that the new Quartermaster-General could with 
difficulty be identified with the universally known 
" Buster." 

Another point — a very special one — may also be 
here noted. On his proceeding to take up this 
appointment, he was leaving England for the last 
time, never to return. He stepped at once from the 
post he was then joining to his final appointment 
at Beloochistan, the vacancy of which occurred 
suddenly from the unexpected death of his predecessor 
therein, Sir R. Sandeman. 

But, to revert to the appointment itself, his thorough 
knowledge of railways and of our north-west frontier 
was certain to be of great value in dealing with Indian 
defence and mobilisation. His thoughts too had long 
been filled with projects reaching far into the future, 
such as strategic railway extensions, mobilisation, 
concerted arrangements with the colonies, and the like. 
The more departmental subjects dealt with by the 
Quartermaster-General had little attraction for him — 
they consisted in details which he had not dealt in. 
But it was as well that there should be a change 
to a broader view of things from the comparatively 
cramped range of subjects with which the depart- 
ment dealt in its routine work. It was, of course, 


a matter of moment to Browne that both the 
principal military officers in India, the Commander- 
in-chief and the Military Member of the Council, 
were of one mind in selecting him for the post. 

Irrespective of routine work, Browne's special 
functions would lie in the movements of troops, 
especially during war and the threatenings of war, 
a situation which was likely to be, a*nd was, in fact, 
ceaseless ; as during Lord Roberts's command-in-chief 
war was always going on somewhere. This will 
be seen from the list of expeditions that were carried 
on during Browne's three years' tenure of this post 
as shown on page 282. 

In regard to the special question of the Border 
defences in front of Quetta, .it may be observed that 
before Browne joined the Hurnai work in 1883, he 
had been employed on the Defence Committee at 
Simla, and had there acquired an exceptional degree 
of knowledge on frontier defences generally. So now, 
in 1889, six years afterwards, he was thoroughly 
qualified to deal with the conclusions at which 
that committee and the chief authorities had arrived, 
and the decisions on the points involved, on which 
orders were now definitely passed. It had taken some 
time to thrash out the final conclusions, as every 
expert had eventually had his say, and the inquiry 
had been very thorough. Practically the final con- 
clusions on this report formed the Bible for his 
departmental guidance, and now that the principles 
and salient points were settled, it fell on him 
to organise and work at giving effect to the conclusions 
formed. Hence, instead of remaining chiefly at the 
army headquarters as his predecessors had generally 
done, he was ceaselessly on the move, visiting the 
stations all over the Bengal Presidency and pressing 



forward and helping the executive measures to give 
effect to the conclusions arrived at and the orders 
issued, as well as to the new schemes for the 
mobilisation of troops. 

While these arrangements and schemes were under 
preparation, Browne was not settled quietly at any 
headquarters, but was generally on the move in one 
part of India or another — Peshawur, Quetta, Rawal- 
pindee, Calcutta, Burma, Assam, and elsewhere, as 
well as the intermediate stations— for his multifarious 
tasks entailed personal inspections and investigations, 
with of course the subsequent reports and proposals ; 
and the subjects involved were such practical matters 
as the hutting of troops, the organisation of transport, 
the sanitation of stations, reconnaissances and surveys 
for lines of communication, and the like. 

In addition to such technical work, he drew up very 
full and suggestive papers on subjects of moment to 
the State, based on his personal visits and inquiries. 
These subjects embraced frontier defences including 
Quetta ; frontier railways ; the concert of varied 
communications, e.g. by railway, road, and river ; 
sites for passages of the Indus and other rivers ; the 
Khojak Tunnel ; temporary military railways, such 
as for the Chitral expedition ; routes, railways, and 
preparations generally for the defence of India on 
the north-west, and so on. His State papers indeed 
form a most valuable collection ; for, in fact, during 
his tenure of the post of Quartermaster-General 
Browne was dealing with questions of exceptionally 
high importance, and directly subject to the scrutiny 
and criticism of such men as Lord Roberts and Sir 
George Chesney. His views and suggestions, it need 
hardly be said, were most of them confidential and 
are not available for publication, but a few that are 


available are dealt with when the subjects involved 
are discussed. 

The most important subjects on which he reported 
are the following : 

The military strength of Russia in Central Asia. 

An Indo-Afghan Railway to Herat. 

The extension of railways beyond the Indus. 

The improved feeling on the frontier. 

But in addition to these were others, which could 
not be dealt with except very briefly or by name only. 
Such as: 

On the meeting-point of the English and the 
Russian advance on the Arabian Sea. 

On the Frontier Policy in 1890. 

On a railway from Cabul to Candahar. 

On other railways in Afghanistan, e.g. connecting 
Ghuznee and Khelat-i-Ghilzie with our own frontier 

On the terms for concert with the Ameer regarding 

On recruiting for our army on the frontier. 
On tribal levies and the like. 
On railways in Zhob. 

On the formation of a new Trans-Indus Province 
(since carried out). 

On improvements in frontier administration. 

On the widespread misconceptions of the condition 
and needs of the frontier. 

On the proper basis for such administration and 
influence lying in interminable conversations and 
personal intercourse, with a minimum of paper-work 
and correspondence. 

Many of the expeditions were serious little wars, 
causing much anxiety and attracting much attention 
at the time, and bringing to their commanders, as was 


due to them, high honour and repute. But on Browne 
and the army staff they merely entailed very hard 
work in the preparations and arrangements for the 
expeditions. At one time 30,000 men were on active 
service — not en masse, but in separate parties, each 
demanding special arrangements and preparations. 

The Chitral expedition, it may be remarked, was 
an exceptionally severe strain because it came on 
quite suddenly, when Wuzeerabad was still occupied 
by mobilisation troops and the stores at Peshawur 
had just been destroyed by fire, requiring the base 
to be shifted from Peshawur to Nowshera. In 
addition he had to supervise large camps of exercise 
at Muridki, Khairabad, and Aligurh. 

But his great and prominent task was the organisa- 
tion of an entirely new scheme for the mobilisation 
of troops for campaign work. Under this scheme the 
basis was changed from mobilisation by regiments or 
corps, into mobilisation by stations. The smoothness 
of the working and the elasticity and soundness of his 
scheme were soon tested and proved by the Chitral 
campaign, the severe strain of which established 
its efficacy, especially in regard to the tables he 
drew up, as, for instance, for railway movements, 
for equipment, station stores, field manuals, general 
troop movements, obligatory garrisons, etc. — matters 
which all lay directly under the Quartermaster- 

Though, doubtless, more was still open for him to 
advise on, Browne's time as Quartermaster-General 
closed abruptly at the end of three years, when, in 
consequence of the sudden death of Sir Robert Sande- 
man, Governor-General's Agent in Beloochistan, he 
was selected for the succession to that post. The 
letters he received, both of regret at the cessation of 


his recent functions and of compliment at the high 
and very important charge now assigned him, were 
very pleasant and gratifying. 

It need hardly be said that while Browne was 
Quartermaster-General the Russians had been 
steadily pressing their way into Central Asia — on 
the passes, and the Afghan borders, but chiefly in 
Afghan Turkestan, among the Huzari subjects of the 
Ameer, and wherever, for any reason, it could be 
claimed that the frontiers were not defined. In 
Africa the Mahdi and other troubles were in full 
force; and Rhodes's settlement of Rhodesia was 
being effected, though to be followed quickly by 
the Matabele war. 

While Browne was dealing chiefly and vigorously 
with the two great subjects to which Lord Roberts 
had desired his special attention — the west frontier 
defence and mobilisation — he had of course to take 
his proper part in regard to another important class 
of military questions, the frontier wars and expedi- 
tions ; although other commanders and officers were 
in specific charge of their direct conduct and manage- 
ment. They can be conveniently dealt with in two 
groups : those on the eastern frontiers, and those on 
the west or north-west. 

On the east there had been during those three 
years some seven more or less prolonged contests — 
viz. with Burma, Sikkim, the Looshaies (2), the Chins, 
Manipur, and the Kachins. 

On the north-west there had been six, though they 
might be held to be more numerous, as these areas 
were extensive, and the troops detached. There were 
two against the Mirunzyes and Orakzyes, and one 
against each of the following : Zhob, Hazara and the 
Black Mountain, Hunza Nuggur, Gilgit and Isazye. 


In all these contests the difficulties lay in the moun- 
tainous character of the country and all the important 
points being held by the enemy. 

The only contest that need be referred to at greater 
length is that of the Black Mountain expedition. The 
reason for this is, the personal part which Lord 
Roberts played in it, and the limitations of the sphere 
of operations, under the specific orders of the Govern- 
ment, to a very restricted area — a restriction which 
led to a much more widespread and serious and 
costly war four years later. The whole business 
was typical — typical, that is, of the blunders and evil 
policy of Government, interfering with the military 
operations, and, in a short-sighted and half-hearted 
manner, stopping them when the enemy were not 
yet vanquished or cowed, thus encouraging them 
to repeat the struggle at their own convenience. 
The enemy were contemptible, but they had their old 
stereotyped methods of fighting, while the restrictions 
imposed on Lord Roberts and his force played into 
their hands. The orders were so strict and peremptory 
that evasion of them or of their results was impos- 
sible. As in all such mountain conflicts, there was 
one body of determined fighters — Ghazees — and these 
duly sought and met their fate : otherwise the enemy 
were merely hiding, sniping, and skulking for oppor- 

Then the troops were withdrawn to fit in with 
reports that would reach England at a critical date, 
although, during the whole term of retirement, there 
were always sufficiently near well-hidden, numerous 
tribesmen, keeping up a persistent desultory fire on 
the troops. One can imagine what the chagrin and 
irritation of the Chief must have been at this return 
to the worst periods and worst modes which had 


been now and then allowed to mark our conduct 
of hill warfare. 

It is difficult to imagine what valid objection there 
could have been to the measure that was obviously 
essential — the selection of a proper frontier line in 
advance, really and easily defensible, affording all 
the military and political facilities that were needed, 
and bringing the inhabitants under British rule. 
The Indus would have formed a natural boundary 
along a great part of such frontier line ; but, although 
there were mounted troops with the force, it does 
not appear that much further information of the lie 
of the country was obtained. It has been suggested 
that the Allai Valley would have made a good 
boundary — in a word, the whole of the Black Mountain 
should have been brought into British territory. 

One of the subjects in which Browne was particularly 
interested, and about which he corresponded with 
his brother officers and others, was the advance of 
Russia and of India towards the mouth of the Persian 
Gulf and where they would be likely to meet. 

He gathered that the Russians would be likely to 
move from Khorasan on the death of the Shah, and 
only wait the development of their newer trades and 
enterprises in Trans-Caspia to advance and take Herat. 
So we should push on to Nushki ; we otherwise 
should meet them near Candahar or on the Helmund. 
There was no reason to think of a Sebastopol on the 
Persian Gulf : either Englishmen must be off the seas 
altogether or they would never let Russia settle on 
the " Gulf," or get there as a naval power ; and if she 
tried to do so it would be a very vulnerable point 
at which to worry and annoy her. 

The Trans-Caspian Railway was likely to reach 
Tashkent, and vastly strengthen Russia on the Penjdeh 


frontier. Railway branches could then be pushed 
on to various points, from which to advance farther 
to Herat and Meshed, with branches from Bairam 
AH and Charjui to Karki and Penjdeh. Browne knew 
that General Armenhoff and all the Russian officials 
in Trans-Caspia were very eager for the scheme. 

He understood that Sir H. D. Wolff could get no 
concession for railways, but that he might get a finger 
in the railway pie if he consented to go shares with 
Russia in a railway from Rescht to Mohamrah, which, 
however, would be a doubtful policy. He had heard 
rumours of concessions in railways being granted to 
two "Russian capitalists ; lines from Rescht to Teheran 
and on to Koru and Ispahan, and from Koru to 
Kermanshah, were what he heard the Russians 
wanted, and also a line from Sarakhs to Meshed. It 
was possible that the Shah might refuse railway 
concessions to both English and Russians, and give 
them to Belgians or French, but in that case they 
would either be good for Russia, or no good to any 

On the other hand Browne advocated a railway 
from Gwadur within Beloochee limits to Seistan, and 
another from Nushki which would threaten the 
Caspian line. There was this objection to any such 
scheme, that they would be far from India, and Herat 
would be a doubtful ally. Khorasan would probably 
have practically become Russian, with a nasty bit 
of country between Seistan and Trans-Caspia. The 
Caucasus, Bokhara, and the Turkomans were already 
subdued, and would every year become less inclined 
to revolt. The Tzar would be likely to consolidate 
and tranquillise all his part of Central Asia. Seistan 
ought certainly to be ours and the Nushki Railway 
should be pushed on, but there could be no likelihood, 


he held, of our establishing ourselves in Persia or on 
Persian territory, nor of any railway from Bandar 
Abbas except in the event of a game of " catch who 
catch can " being started by Russia on the death of the 
Shah. He had learnt that inland from Gwadur the 
country was rugged, mountainous, and full of gorges, 
very difficult for railways. On some other points he 
knew that Gwadur had a fair anchorage in an open 
bay, but was not to be compared in this respect with 
Bandar Abbas, which with the island of Kishm has 
an excellent harbour fit for a large fleet and in every 
way suitable for military purposes. 

A British occupation of any part of Persia south of 
the great plateau was held to be practically impossible 
unless we intended to partition the empire and take 
all south of the line from Kermanshah, Ispahan, and 
Kirman. But the people bear us no love and the 
climate on the lower plains is too hot for Europeans. 
By that route we could not do more than prevent 
Russia getting down from Persia and Mesopotamia. 

Seistan, he held, could not act as a menace to the 
Trans-Caspian Railway, as troops from Tashkent 
and the Caucasus could be massed so readily, but 
it might help to prevent Russia from getting to the 
"Gulf" on the eastern road, i.e. by the route to the 
east of the Great Salt Desert, and might help in keep- 
ing Afghanistan in order. This, however, would not 
prevent the Russians coming down through Armenia 
and Mesopotamia or via the Karun, were the latter 
unoccupied. But Seistan and Las Jowain would 
support British troops, who would there enjoy fair 
comfort and health. 

He further thought that Persia would nominally 
help Russia, but would dally and delay and would 
never attack us unless in company with or coerced 



by Russian troops. And, in any case, she would 
bring nothing worth having in the way of troops, 
regular or irregular, unless her military organisation 
were materially changed meanwhile. Her undis- 
ciplined rabble, with no commissariat or transport of 
any sort, miserably equipped, would only loot and 
drive away the inhabitants both friendly and un- 
friendly, eat up supplies, and never do a day's fighting. 

The Luristan tribes would help us. They hate the 
Persians, but they do not love us or know us at 
present. It would probably be a question of money 
and nothing else, and as we have the longest purse 
they would come to us. We might prevent Russia 
from coming down the Karun, but to do any good we 
must occupy Ispahan, etc., and not stay in a barren, 
mountainous, uncivilised county like Luristan. 

One other expedition may be mentioned — that from 
Quetta through the Zhob Valley debouching through 
the Mahsood Wuzeeree country, the site of Browne's 
first experience of war. This expedition, though it 
had to coerce and fine some troublesome chiefs and 
tribes, and settle the country, met with no actual 
fighting; but its object was the important one of 
getting a thorough grip of that country with a view to 
the preparation for the double routes which were to 
be carried out thence, from the Derajat, north-west 
and south-west towards Ghuznee and Khelat-i-Ghilzie 
respectively through the passes of the Gomul and 
Zhob Rivers. The object was to clear and establish 
a strong strategical starting-ground. It was practic- 
ally the same ground, then quite unknown, that 
Biddulph and Browne had traversed between the 
first and second periods of the Afghan war ; but now 
much valuable information, through the investigation 
of these several parties and of Colonel Buchanan 


Scott and others, had been collected and was to 
lead to the organisation of the through routes desired. 
In fact, Browne's view was that the carrying out of 
the route to Khelat-i-Ghilzie would practically lead 
to a partition of Afghanistan being available without 
any further difficulty, whenever it might be desired, 
by an east and west line running between Ghuznee 
and Khelat-i-Ghilzie, while that through the Zhob 
country itself would connect Quetta directly with 
the Upper Punjab. 

With regard to the expedition on the western 
frontiers, though the management and control of the 
tribes was not Browne's present business, still his 
knowledge of them was so great that his views as to 
the methods to be pursued could not fail to have 
effect. It was essential to discriminate between those 
districts where Pathans were concerned and those 
connected with Beloochees ; between those tribes in 
which there was a large body of skilled and in- 
dustrious cultivators, or of clever and keen traders, 
and those who lived by plunder and evil deeds. Thus 
when Browne had been in England in 1888, there 
had been an effort made to open the Gomul Pass, 
but it had been a failure owing to the misunder- 
standing of the leading bad characters, especially one 
Umar Khan. The Mahsood Wuzeerees were a clan 
that especially required a careful and organised con- 
trolling policy, not only from their intrinsic qualities, 
but from the fact that they completely dominated both 
the Gomul and the Traki Passes to Khelat-i-Ghilzie 
and to Ghuznee respectively. It was necessary there- 
fore not only to get a grip of the routes and passes, 
but to secure and develop the country, and it was 
with this view that, at the end of 1889, about the 
time of Browne's return to India as Quartermaster- 


General, Lord Lansdowne had a meeting at Dera 
Ishmael Khan of the leading officers concerned — Lord 
Roberts, the Governor of the Punjab, and Colonel 
Sandeman — and then with them rode up the Gomul 
and passed a scheme for occupying Zhob and opening 
up the Gomul. 

Before closing this part of Browne's career it may 
be mentioned that it was not till he had moved into 
his next post that the thoroughness and value of his 
mobilisation work were, or indeed could be, recognised. 
Also, though ex officio necessarily connected with the 
question from the first, he was for some time only 
one of the members of the committee. But now 
Lord Roberts, at the instance, it is thought, of Sir 
H. Brackenbury, placed the superintendence of the 
whole matter in Browne's hands. Browne had 
always taken an interest in it, and now he took the 
subject con amove, and showed himself a thorough 
expert in its requirements if only from his exceptional 
knowledge of the frontier and of railways and his 
aptitude for all arrangements connected with the 
concentration and movements of troops. It was a 
foregone conclusion that at any rate his measures 
would be thoroughly practical. They were early 
pronounced to be satisfactory, and in 1895 they stood 
the severe test of the rapid mobilisation of 16,000 
troops for the relief of Chitral. This mobilisation and 
his frontier schemes leave an indelible stamp on the 
value of his work as Quartermaster-General of the 
army, as thus authoritatively described : 

"A very startling collapse and break-up has befallen 
the hostile attitude so long maintained towards us 
along the border. The frontier tribes seem to have 
been impressed, almost at one and the same moment, 
by a sudden consciousness that the game was up ; 



that they were now surrounded on all sides by the 
British power; and that the best thing to be done 
was to submit, and to make the best terms for them- 
selves. This consciousness was clearly described by 
a Wuzeeree maffick, in reply to my question as to how 
it was that they had all so suddenly given up their 
old standing hostility towards us. He simply put 
his thumb between his teeth, and said, 1 What shall 
we do between the upper and lower jaws,'— the jaws 
being the Beloochistan Agency on one side, and the 
Punjab on the other. But notwithstanding this 
forcible illustration, I do not think this change of 
temper is entirely due to a feeling that we are too 
strong for them. The spirit of fanaticism is very 
rapidly disappearing. When passing the graves of 

the Zhob expedition of 1885, I remarked to Shingul, 
the hereditary chief of Zhob, that they were brave 
men, to w T hom we bore no grudge, and lifted my hat 
to a conspicuous grave erected over the leader. 

" On my arriving the same day at Khusnob, the 
village to which the leader and most of the killed had 
belonged, his father and mother, with many villagers, 
brought me a big pot of milk as a token of good-will, 
and of their appreciation of what they had heard from 
Shingul. Civilisation is asserting itself, and leavening 
the whole of the country between the Punjab and 
Afghanistan proper. 

"A vigorous effort will soon make the tribes on 
the Punjab frontier appreciate our rule as heartily 
and loyally as the Beloochee confederacy now does ; 
and so secure them as allies. 

" Just as, in the political problem, the Ameer's alliance 
is the first factor, so, in the military question, 
will the advantage be with the Power which first 
gets a firm grip of the Cabul-Candahar line. Again, 
as the allegiance of Beloochistan and of the fringe 
of frontier tribes is our political reserve against the 
Ameer's siding with Russia, so the power of rapidly 
throwing our troops direct by a Zhob railway from 
the Khyber to the Khojak is our military insurance 
against losing the Cabul-Candahar line. Just as the 
military need of a direct railway link between the 
Khyber and the Khojak has very lately asserted itself, 
so the political need for measures creating a new 

were killed by our troops in 



Trans-Indus province has now come upon us, and is 
none the less real for being rather unexpected. 

" As scarcity of fighting men is our main difficulty, 
we must endeavour to make soldiers for ourselves 
out of the magnificent material which the extension 
of our influence during the last six months has placed 
at our disposal. Whilst the Punjab would still supply 
the backbone of our regular native army, we should 
also prepare tribal levies officered by English and 
native gentlemen trained in a Trans-Indus school, 
which there is considerable danger of our losing 
under the existing system : which leaves, in the 
native army, and even in the Punjab frontier force, 
little scope to an officer to develop the power of 
rapidly organising, and properly commanding, undis- 
ciplined and turbulent, though naturally warlike, 

" It is a mistake to suppose that because a country 
is thinly peopled, barren, and unhealthy, it can get 
on comfortably with a small and inefficient, whilst 
cheap and therefore probably corrupt, administration 
for revenue, police, and judicial business. 

" With a staff sufficient in quantity as in quality the 
revenues of the Trans-Indus province would increase 
faster than the cost of administration ; and its agri- 
cultural, commercial, and mineral capabilities would, 
under liberal treatment, be considerably greater than 
is generally supposed. 

" We have admittedly to complete some 666 miles 
of railway within Afghanistan proper ; from Dacca, 
via Cabul, Ghuznee, Candahar, to Chaman, and from 
Girdao, via the Gomul, to Ghuznee, forming the main 
lines indispensable to our hold of the country. And 
that too before Russia absorbs Afghan Turkestan. 

" It is a stock phrase that we cannot offer Afghanistan 
any bribe equal to that held out by Russia in the 
shape of the plunder of India ; but with such a 
proposition, I disagree. Any auditor can pass, un- 
questioned, an outlay of five per cent, in excess of 
estimate. An offer to the Ameer to subsidise him 
to that extent, which on the scale of European railway 
concessions is ridiculously low, in addition to the 
enormous profits made by his people on the capital 
spent on construction, is a bribe. 

"Many highly trained and educated soldiers and 


civilians, both in England and India, but unacquainted 
with frontier conditions and the technical details of 
railway construction, have in my experience been 
quite incapable of appreciating the complicated 
reasons which are moulding our present policy. 

" We have sufficient data to know where the railway 
between Pesheen and Dera Ishmael Khan must run ; 
on which, as being the administrative as well as 
military backbone of any Trans-Indus province, no 
delay should now occur. There should be a staff 
sufficient to carry out routine district work, inde- 
pendently of, and quite distinct from, the maintenance 
of influence over the tribes. This influence, I may 
remark, is mainly based on interminable conversations 
and personal intercourse which cannot coexist with 
the submission of periodic returns or paper-work of 
any sort, and is only obtained by men gifted with 
very special qualifications." 


BEL O O CHI ST A N : 1888-94 

Browne's appointment to the agency of khelat and 
beloochistan — close of sandeman's rule — affairs 
of khelat — deposition of the reigning khan — 
british beloochistan — the high courts — public 
works and improvements in the province. 

'Hp HE various successive episodes in Sandeman's 

rule of Beloochistan have been described from 

time to timers Browne came in contact with 
the province ; but it still remains to deal with those 
of the last few years during which Browne was not 
directly connected with it, though keenly taken up 
with the question of its frontier defences. From Lord 
Lytton's time till these last four years, Sandeman 
had kept a steady pressure on the Khan, a man of 
a naturally brutal and untamed disposition, as has 
been described, and all had gone well in the direction 
of British Beloochistan. But there had ever been 
feuds and petty wars with the great tribes stretching 
away westwards along the coast of the Arabian Sea 
to the borders of Persia, and the occurrences there, 
as well as in British territory, must be briefly de- 
scribed. It will be remembered that Sandeman's was 
a double charge — the actual rule of British Beloo- 
chistan on the one hand, and on the other the political 

1 Vide Chapter IX. and later. 



management of the territory of which the Khan of 
Khelat was the recognised head, as primus inter pares. 

There had first of all been some difficulty at Lus 
Beyla in Khelat territory in consequence of quarrels 
between the members of the family of the Jam (as 
its chief is called) ; but these had been soon settled, 
after a short interregnum under an outsider, Rae 
Hitta Ram. Then the organisation of the administra- 
tion of British Beloochistan had been vigorously taken 
up. An exceptionally able officer, Mr. Hugh Barnes, 
had been posted to the organisation of the revenue 
and police arrangements, and following on this a 
code of laws and regulations was framed, police and 
tribal levies were raised, public works and railways 
were expanded, as well as irrigation, water supply, 
and forestry ; and, lastly, education was taken in 
hand. With this progress the province had naturally 
begun to attract much attention. First Lord Dufferin 
and afterwards Lord Lansdowne visited it ; also Lord 
Roberts frequently, as well as the rulers of Madras, 
Bombay, and the Punjab, and the Afghan Governor 
of Candahar. But, both now and later on, in Browne's 
time one of the most important and the most studious 
inquirers among all the visitors was the present 
Viceroy (then Mr. Curzon), who delighted Browne by 
the thoroughness of his inquisition. This, no doubt, 
led to the drastic changes which he introduced when 
his time came, as will be afterwards shown. A great 
durbar was eventually held in November, 1889, at 
which both the Khan of Khelat and the Jam of Lus 
Beyla were present, besides a posse of minor chiefs. 

After this came the measures, already referred to, 
which were taken, when Browne was Quartermaster- 
General, for the opening out of the Zhob and the general 
routes from the Wuzeeree country towards Khelat-i- 


Ghilzie and Ghuznee respectively. A durbar was also 
now held which, so to speak, gave the signal for the 
unanimous laudation from the Press of India of the 
model which Sandeman had now given of border 
administration. As it was, he had, in addition, taken 
the opportunity to impress on those with him his 
view that Wana was the site from which to have 
full control over the Wuzeerees and their passes ; 
but fear of the susceptibilities of the Ameer seems, 
at that time, to have stood in the way. Other 
expeditions followed, notably against the Sheranee and 
Khidderzye tribes, and then he turned his attention 
to the western, the Mekran, country. There 
considerable turmoil had arisen. The several clans 
of Mekran and Panjgur, of Kej and Gickki, and 
the Naushirwanees, were engaged in internecine strife, 
with the result of much anarchy, in the course of 
which Major Muir was attacked and wounded. 
Sandeman received full powers from the Khan and 
made a temporary settlement ; and then, not before 
he needed it, took a trip to England, in which he 
endeavoured, but without success, to obtain sanction 
for the measures which he desired to bring about. 
When he left India on his short visit to England 
Sir Oliver St. John at first acted for him ; but 
suddenly fell ill and died, and the confusion in the 
khanate increased greatly. 

Hence on his return, Sandeman found that the 
settlements he had made had not lasted, and that the 
muddle was at least as great as ever. The clan feuds 
had been renewed and were in full progress, while 
the Khan himself, whom he had been controlling and 
guiding for some seventeen years, was apparently 
relapsing into his old savage temper and barbarous 
ways. In fact, though keeping quiet while under 

296 BELOOCHISTAN : 1888-94 

steady pressure, he was always at heart a genuine 
savage. There was bitter quarrel and strife in his 
palace, and Zenana murders were talked of. The 
greatest anxieties, however, seemed to be again about 
Lus Beyla, so thither Sandeman went, partly by sea, 
and met the Mekran and other chiefs. But while 
there he suddenly contracted an illness by which he 
was carried off, after only a few days, towards the 
end of January, 1892, leaving the local turmoil and 
difficulties in full swing. 

Such were the circumstances in which Browne, on 
landing from Burma, found himself to his intense 
surprise summoned to Quetta to take charge of the 
Agency in succession to Sandeman, whom he had 
known throughout the whole period of his sway in 
Beloochistan, with whose views he had ever been in 
entire unison, and for whom he had always held 
and avowed a hearty liking and admiration. But the 
times were changing. Sandeman had done splendid 
work and guided the new state and province through 
its infancy to healthy manhood, but it was now about 
to be left to Browne to continue that work and 
guidance through the struggles of manhood. 

Irrespective, however, of his being in agreement 
with Sandeman's usual policy, it must be here observed 
that Browne's appointment to Beloochistan was not 
in agreement with his own aims and wishes at that 
juncture. His career had heretofore been full of 
changes, not only in the sites of his work, but in the 
professional character and in the administrative de- 
partments to which his posts had appertained. This 
had, therefore, affected him as if he were a rolling 
stone, gathering no moss ; and had forced on him the 
sense that these constant changes tended to militate 
against his advancement to those still higher posts 


to which he was entitled to aspire; the more so if 
he were debarred from direct contact with the Govern- 
ment, even though no other obstacles or impediments 
or personal difficulties came in the way. 

His inclination, therefore, was to say "no" to the 
offer — the rather that he had been more and more 
bent latterly on a military career and on high com- 
mand with its opportunity for military distinction. 
He explained accordingly that such were his feelings 
and views ; but Lord Lansdowne, to whom the exist- 
ing difficulties and complications of the case were 
best known, urged the point so strongly that Browne 
accepted the charge, though he did not definitely take 
up its duties till the following April (1892). 

Before entering on Browne's assumption of the 
succession to Sandeman, it must be explained that 
the administration included (1) the Khelat state, and 
(2) British Beloochistan. The former was of chief 
importance — at first at any rate — and the deeper 
points involved, and the difficulties met with, will 
be dealt with presently. But the administration of 
British Beloochistan, which was being practically 
worked upon the lines prevalent in the Punjab, was 
quite a distinct matter. 

Still in both of them Browne eventually found 
himself seriously thwarted ; and it will be expedient, 
for the sake of clearness, to deal separately with these 
two charges, and to notice two other points : first, 
that Browne was appointed to the post by Lord 
Lansdowne, whose further stay in India was com- 
paratively short, and to whom, therefore, he could 
not refer for support and for the continuance of the 
policy started ; and, secondly, that an assimilation of 
British Beloochistan, in administrative arrangements, 
to the Punjab and to the "regulation" system had 

298 BELOOCHISTAN: 1888-94 

already begun, which was wholly opposed to Browne's 
own views and to general frontier opinion, and was 
eventually cancelled, but not till after his death. 
While it lasted, it caused an infinity of trouble. 

The native state of Khelat first claims our attention. 
The preceding pages show that Sir Robert Sandeman 
died in January, 1892, but that Browne did not take 
up the charge of the post till the following April. 
In the interval, Mr. Barnes, who has been already 
mentioned, had been officiating, and it may be reason- 
ably assumed that, as he had been already several 
years in the service, was known to possess great 
ability, and had acquired eleven years of cognate and 
local experience, he was regarded, in many quarters, 
as the most probable and suitable successor to Sande- 
man. But it is clear that, in Lord Lansdowne's view, 
the circumstances that prevailed, including specially 
the Khan's attitude, the state of the Mekran tribes, 
and the several frontier questions, made it necessary 
to appoint to the post some officer of Browne's 
antecedents and special qualifications. This is all 
the more obvious when it is considered how unwilling 
Browne was to take the post, how he personally 
recognised Mr. Barnes's position and claims, and how 
seriously he differed from Lord Lansdowne as to the 
attitude and policy advisable towards the frontier 
tribes. But, as it was, he loyally carried out Lord 
Lansdowne's plans, and then, when the crisis arose 
suddenly, he acted without orders on his own judg- 
ment, asserted British supremacy, and crushed the 
Khan. He met with his reward in the hearty jubila- 
tion of the Mekran tribes, and their quiescent and 
immediate acceptance of British control. All this will 
be presently described at greater length. 

We have first to return to the crisis. While 

Photo by Histed.] 


[To face f, 298- 


Sandeman was still alive and specially anxious about 
the western clans, the Khan himself had, without ap- 
parently any suspicion in higher quarters, become 
excited, and had begun inquiries and investigations 
into palace robberies and intrigues and quarrels. He 
had come to the conclusion that the scandals had been 
serious ; and therefore, taking the law into his own 
hands, he had later on committed several murders and 
carried out some brutal and ferocious punishments, 
while the public view in general was that nothing 
seriously wrong had occurred to occasion them beyond 
mere robberies. Gradually his conduct grew worse 
and worse, till finally, taking advantage of the disturbed 
state of the country and the withdrawal of the British 
troops in 1893, and apparently losing his head, he 
rejected the remonstrances of Government, and defied 
it ! Browne's action was prompt : the Khan was 
forthwith deposed and kept under surveillance. This 
deposition was soon confirmed by the Government. 
The withdrawal of the troops, which had been settled 
before Browne's arrival, but was not carried out till 
after it, had led the Khan to assume that he was 
without weight and power, and hence he had tried 
to brave him — with the result that has been shown. 

The Khan's eldest son not being satisfactory, he 
was, with the approval of the other Khans or chiefs 
of the Beloochee tribes, set aside from the succession, 
and Khodadad Khan's second son, as already noted, 
was nominated instead. He, Mir Mahmud Khan, was 
accordingly installed as Khan of Khelat, with the 
hearty approval of all the other Khans assembled 
at a great durbar at Quetta on November 10th, 
1893. The ex-Khan is said to have acquiesced. 
His own fierce nature, after finding a vent in his 
outburst, had probably by this time subsided, and 


BEL00CHISTAN: 1888-94 

he had begun to feel the qualms of conscience under 
the unavoidable recognition of his savage return for 
Sandeman's patient and prolonged guidance. 

Now the Beloochees, as has been already shown 
very explicitly, though a brave race and always 
ready for a fight or a scrimmage, are not evil- 
tempered or ill-natured ; the quarrels amongst the 
tribes were not so bitter as among the Pathans, and 
were generally side issues from their quarrels with 
the Khan owing to his despotic aims. So now, when 
Browne had got the new Khan under full control, 
he easily managed to stop the feuds among the tribes, 
and to bring the khanate into a state of peace and 
tranquillity without firing a shot ; and this character- 
istic of his rule lasted from its earliest to its latest 

The old Khan, now brought to his bearings, and 
convinced of the fact that there would be no turning 
back or wavering, but that with troubles there might 
be a lowering of the position of his family and of his 
son the new Khan, accepted the position contentedly 
— almost cordially — and seems to have become an 
altered man. The whole khanate appeared to rejoice, 
and when, next year, the new Khan was installed at 
Quetta, the capital of the province, with much pomp 
and ceremony, the scene was a jubilee. 

This matter of the Khan's misconduct and his con- 
sequent removal from the throne in favour of his 
second son involved the first important measure 
Browne had to carry out in his new charge, and a 
very serious business it was ; but fortunately his 
conduct was heartily approved by Lord Lansdowne, 
and there was not a dissentient voice in his Council. 

Then came the question of the westerly tribes, the 
Mekranees and others who had been under the Khan's 


sway, and with whom there had been a perpetual 
state of internecine warfare. To a great extent the 
difficulty, that at first loomed very darkly, was reduced 
so greatly and so quickly as at once to reach prac- 
ticable proportions. Browne's vigour, on the one 
hand, had quelled the original tendency to opposition ; 
and, on the other, it soon became evident that the 
internecine feeling among those tribes was not an 
innate reality, but an outcome of the heated atmo- 
sphere brought about by the Khan's savage habits 
and unrestrained aspirations. On the cessation of 
his power no serious grounds of quarrel between 
the clans remained, and these tribes consequently 
lapsed into comparative quiescence, and heartily took 
part in the durbar. But their position was not at once 
definitely settled, and it became apparent presently 
that those western tribes were not to be brought, like 
their neighbours, under Browne's sway. For, how- 
ever effective, his policy with the Khelat states was not 
in favour with the Government, nor supported by it. 

It is not proposed to enter extensively into frontier 
politics, but it is permissible to say that when, in 
direct opposition to Browne's views, the withdrawal 
from Mekran was insisted on and carried out, a wave 
of depression was seen to pass over the political 
officers of the Agency. It was the first step backward 
from the successful forward policy of the late Sir 
R. Sandeman, and it shook the confidence of the 
politicals in themselves, and of the natives in the 
promises of their officers. Although subsequently 
Sir James Browne re-established our prestige, and 
won over the chiefs of the district to loyalty and 
peaceful behaviour, without recourse to bloodshed, 
this was entirely attributable to his personality, and 
to his power over the natives of that frontier. For 



Lord Lansdowne, now taking more personal part 
in these affairs and desirous of completing a full 
understanding with Browne, again appeared on the 
scene in connection especially with the question that 
had arisen of the degree of Browne's control of the 
Mekranees and more westerly tribes. This had 
become to some extent a military question, and it 
had been decided to withdraw all troops from those 
districts, as had been proposed in Sandeman's time. 
He had fought hard against it, and the execution of 
the measure had been therefore temporarily deferred. 
Now, however, it was to be carried out, much to 
Browne's chagrin ; and Lord Lansdowne appeared 
on the scene, chiefly, it is thought, to soften Browne's 
opposition and his feelings on the point. It did not 
lessen his objection, but it removed any feelings of 
opposition or chagrin in the matter; and Lord Lans- 
downe inspired in Browne the warmest and most 
cordial feelings. He felt assured of the Viceroy's 
confidence, and entertained the most entire faith and 
trust in his lordship's judgment and especially in 
his readiness and openness of mind in subjects of 
dispute or doubt. 

As an instance of his personal dealings with these 
wild races it may be noted that he sent the most 
influential chief of the Mekran district with a letter 
to Lahore, to obtain for him a good place at the 
grand review of the troops assembled in connection 
with the Viceroy's grand durbar. This Khan had 
been the bitterest opponent of the Khan of Khelat, 
and not even Sir R. Sandeman had been able to 
reduce him to submission. Yet Sir James had suc- 
ceeded with this wild mountaineer, who in his own 
country would stop at nothing to gain his own ends. 
As he sat in the Lahore office soliciting a ticket for 


a front seat at a review, tamed by the magic touch 
of Sir James Browne, he looked the personification 
of mildness ! At the close of the review he was 
asked how he had got on. His whole face was 
alight with pleasure and wonder at the magnificent 
troops he had seen. He realised, perhaps for the 
first time, what the Government had behind their 
political officers, and was not likely to forget it. 
This was one lesson in the education of these wild 

Another case was that of old Bungul, the chief 
of the Zhob Valley, with his little band of marauding 
followers, who were gradually reduced to submission 
and brought under control by Browne's influence 
and methods. 

What has been above written refers specially to 
the matters connected with the control of the khanate 
of Khelat, and its settlement into quiet and order 
on the instalment of the new Khan. Then came the 
two great durbars in 1893 and 1894, after which 
nothing special occurred about the state itself. But 
its rule went on quietly and successfully ; and the 
people became more and more hearty and con- 
tented under the close personal relations they had 
fallen into with their ruler, and the ceaseless and un- 
wearied advice and guidance they received from him 
on all the subjects they desired to discuss. It was just 
what had been done with such good effect on the Punjab 
frontier in the pre-Mutiny days of Henry Lawrence, 
Edwardes, and John Nicholson. The result was the 
same : a people who heartily approved of British rule, 
and supported it — in spite too of the introduction 
of many methods and measures of which they dis- 
approved, but about which they yielded to Browne's 
guidance. Still later on they felt themselves oppressed 


BEL00CH1STAN : 1888-94 

and worried, as the Punjabees had been, with civil 
courts, pleaders, costly court proceedings, cruel liti- 
gation, and other weapons of oppression open to the 
lowest stratum of the race of half-educated native 

Even at -the time of Browne's suppression of the old 
Khan — a matter of political justice and imperative 
necessity — the whole weight of the official head- 
quarters of Government at Simla was felt to be 
against him. It was a very trying and anxious 
time for him, heightened if not caused by a mistaken 
view on the part of those officials as to his action. 
It seems ludicrous to say so, but, in fact, owing to 
interested stories against him, Sir James seems to 
have been considered a fire-brand, anxious, in order 
to gratify his ambitious ends, to stir up a big row 
which he over and over again did his best to avoid. 
One feature, one proof of this fact, was that for 
all the rest of his rule there was no bloodletting 
between the British and the Beloochees ; and he strove 
hard always, and with success, to keep and extend 
the peace. His methods were his own. On his own 
responsibility he moved troops from Jacobabad to 
the Beloochee frontier to show the supporters of the 
wild old Khan that he, Browne, had force at hand to 
back up his orders if he found himself compelled to 
use it. This demonstration had the desired effect, and 
prevented the necessity for extreme measures. In 
the end the change was effected without bloodshed ; 
and in place of the old barbarian, his son, with 
more civilised ideas, but not so advanced as to be 
out of touch with his people, ruled in his stead, 
with judgment and consideration. Browne, in fact, 
acted on the wise policy of displaying his strength, 
in order to avoid having to use it. 


Having said all that is necessary about the Khelat 
state, we turn now to the province of British 
Beloochistan — i.e. the territory organised and ruled 
like the Punjab and the older districts of India. Its 
circumstances were then singular, and have remained 
so till quite a recent date. Till shortly before Browne's 
arrival, the system of administration in force had 
remained very much the same as of old, the only 
special or regulation methods brought into play 
affecting the troops and cantonments, but not meddling 
with the local tribes or the bulk of the native popula- 
tion ; but latterly the thin end of the wedge of 
regulations had been introduced, greatly to the dis- 
comfiture of the natives. 

Browne felt this at once, and forthwith essayed 
to bring the arrangements more into the old groove. 
Already the introduction had been made of regu- 
lations and courts and methods which had been so 
long felt to be unsuitable and mischievous in the 
more northerly borders of the Punjab. In the 
few months during which Lord Lansdowne still 
remained in India, and while Browne's attention 
was primarily occupied with the Khelat business, 
this matter did not trouble him much ; but on 
his looking into these questions after a time, and 
especially into the position and procedure of the 
chief court, he felt almost aghast at the innovation ; 
and this feeling grew and became intensified on Lord 
Elgin taking over the seals of office and continuing- 
and supporting the processes which the Simla Secre- 
tariat had been introducing. The newly organised 
chief court to which Browne at once so strongly 
objected, as unsuited to the population to be dealt 
with, was presided over by Mr. Barnes, who has 
been already mentioned as a man of undoubted 




ability. Browne soon found that Mr. Barnes's views 
and his own in the matter of the courts and of the 
legal polity for the Beloochees were antagonistic and 
practically irreconcilable. There were two high 
courts established in Beloochistan so far back as 
1890 — one for British Beloochistan, the other for 
the Agency territories. The former was absolutely 
necessary, for when people think fit to annex a tract 
to British India, they must set up some sort of high 
court. Whether it was necessary to legislate in 
this formal way for the Agency territories may be 
a question. It did not seem necessary when we 
established ourselves in the Kurrum, and everything 
there was made as informal as possible. 

What took place in Browne's time was this — that 
whereas up to 1893 the Governor-General's Agent 
had to perform the duties of both the high courts, 
regulations were then passed empowering him to 
transfer such portions of the work as he thought fit 
to his Revenue Commissioner. Then, shortly before 
Browne died, the idea seems to have been started 
that it would be better to transfer the whole work 
of the high courts bodily to a Commissioner, who 
would instead be called Judicial Commissioner. But 
this was not done till after Browne's death in 1896. 
The idea of transferring all the high court work 
en masse, and also giving the Governor-General's 
Agent power to transfer such portion of it as he 
thought fit, had been put forward by Sandeman as 
early as 1 891 , and he preferred the former course. 
So that what was done in 1893 and in 1896 was in 
accordance with his views : whether it was in accord- 
ance with Browne's is not recorded, and may be 
doubted. But what Browne disliked was not the 
exercise of the powers, but the accompanying form- 



alities and elaborate procedure, which were a sheer 
mystery to the simple-minded Beloochees. 

This matter, it may be at once said, embittered 
the whole further career of Browne in Beloochistan, 
especially as the new Governor-General, Lord Elgin, 
supported the elaborate policy of the Secretariat and 
opposed Browne on most of the serious questions 
of the province. Especially annoying was the in- 
terference with the jurisdiction of Mekran and the 
western clans of Beloochistan, who had accepted his 
sway so heartily, and with whose military status in 
respect of the defence of the frontier he had been so 
closely concerned when Quartermaster-General. 

Browne, however, was allowed to set to work 
vigorously at the material development of the pro- 
vinces, and before the end railways had been 
advanced, roads traversed the province, and its two 
capitals, Quetta and Ziarat in the mountains, were 
filled with suitable public offices and private build- 
ings. Unfortunately a period of much sickness 
ensued in Browne's later years ; but in spite of 
this, visitors from all parts of the world, including 
the present Viceroy, visited Beloochistan, and testi- 
fied to its progress. 

Both at Quetta and at Ziarat, and also at Zibi 
and wherever suitable opportunity occurred, Browne 
made great efforts to improve the amenities of the 
station. Roads, gardens, plantations, and water 
courses changed them from deserts into pleasure 
grounds. Handsome but suitable public buildings 
were erected — churches, residencies, public courts 
and offices ; private houses with some efforts at taste 
were encouraged. The bazaars were much im- 
proved, and the natives of wealth and position were 
encouraged to erect better dwellings, durbar halls, 

3 o8 BELOOCHISTAN: 1888-94 

and similar buildings for their public meetings. 
In the course of time the whole aspect of the 
place was changed ; and, identified as Browne was 
with all these improvements as well as with the 
entire change in the welfare of the people, known 
personally as he was to the whole populace, and 
specially to the chiefs, Sardars, and men of mark, 
adored by the Ghilzyes, and regarded by so many 
as a Mullah and a saint — he held a position in 
Beloochistan which no one else could possibly 

As with the Khelat state, so with British Belooch- 
istan and its frontiers : Browne worked indefatigably 
for its improvements in all respects. For the British 
stations, there was, and there could be, no sort of 
question ; but after Lord Lansdowne's departure and 
the visit and durbar of the new Viceroy, other in- 
fluences disturbed the policy and characteristics of 
the rule, and pressed greatly on Browne's mind. 
But more need not be said on this matter — except 
that the legal arrangements and the methods of the 
regulation provinces affected the equanimity of the 
Beloochee population very seriously, and doubled the 
task that necessarily devolved on Browne of assuaging 
their irritation and keeping them quiet. 

Much was going on in the more rural parts of 
the province ; and he had to keep a very watchful 
eye on the borders and especially on the Wuzeerees. 
And at length they made an incursion. They were 
promptly met and defeated, and heavily punished. 
But, in point of fact, the overt action of the tribes 
was not the matter that was troubling Browne. 
With his sensitive instincts, and his true insight 
into the character and feelings of the hill tribes, 
and especially with his intimate relations with the 


Ghilzyes, he was alive to the existence of a very 
widespread wave of native hostility, which in the 
year after his death broke over the whole northern 
border. Anarchy had already broken out in Chitral, 
Swat, and Bajour, and the British representative and 
the troops with him were being besieged in Gilgit. 
But in that year (1897) the Beloochee border itself 
suffered from a murderous attack by the tribesmen 
of the Tochi Valley, when Mr. Gee, the political 
officer, was killed along with some of his subordinates 
and escort. This led to the country of the tribesmen 
being traversed by our troops, some 7,000 men and 
their fortified positions being destroyed and levelled, 
the tribesmen fined, and their chiefs imprisoned. 

In 1897, as alluded to, an exceptionally large series 
of frontier expeditions and wars had to be under- 
taken. There were at least six — against respectively 
(1) Malakand, in Swat and Bajour, (2) the Mohmunds, 
(3) the Utman Kheyls, (4) the Bonairs (Browne's 
friends of 1863), (5) the Kurum Valley, and (6) the 
Afreedees and Orakzyes of the Khyber and Tirah. 
In this latter campaign some 44,000 troops were 
employed, in all six about 90,000, involving an outlay 
of about forty-five lakhs of rupees. 

Considering the previous history of those northern 
frontier hostilities, and the long interval of the com- 
parative quiescence since the Umbeyla war, it can 
hardly be doubted that a change had come over 
both the political management of the tribes and the 
military methods for coercing them ; and it may be 
mentioned as a singular, but in no way a significant, 
fact that those two great struggles occurred in the 
times of the two Lords Elgin, father and son. 

It was unfortunate, for many reasons, that the start 
of the new policy — regulations and high courts — for 

3 io BELOOCHISTAN : 1888-94 

the administration of Beloochistan was contempor- 
aneous with the beginning of Browne's comparative 
failure in health. He had long been subject to gout, 
but had never allowed himself to let it master him 
or interfere with his work. But he was now begin- 
ning to think, especially under his altered relations 
with Government, that it was time for him to be 
preparing for a change — a permanent change — to 
England and for employment there. In due course 
he sent Lady Browne and his family home, although 
he continued very fully the hospitalities and amenities 
of the ruler of the province ; the more so that it was 
the site of absorbing interest with a series of travellers 
of note and position — an interest much beyond what 
was at that time excited by any other part of India. 
With this remark the general story of Browne's 
rule of Beloochistan may fairly close. 



two great durbars at quetta — the durbar of 
1893 held by sir james browne — his speech 
— lord Elgin's speech at the durbar of 1893 — 
installation of the khan of khelat as grand 
commander of the order of the indian empire. 

WE have reserved the full account of the 
durbar 1 when the new Khan of Khelat was 
installed at Quetta ; which was reported in 
the Press as follows : 

"The installation of H.H. Mir Mahmud Khan 
as Beglar Begi and Khan of Khelat took place 
at the Gymkhana ground at Quetta, the capital 
of Beloochistan, on Friday, November 10th, 1893, 
when a grand durbar was held by Sir James Browne, 
Agent to the Governor-General, and the Khan was 
installed in a most impressive manner, with all the 
accessories of military pomp and grandeur. 

" On either side of the street bisecting the platform 
were seated on the right the Sarawan Sardars and 
followers, while on the left the Jhallawan Sardars 
and followers. 

"The assemblage of the European populace and 
their families, together with the innumerable Sardars 
of various tribes, and, the semicircle of villagers and 
others who were in swarms on the north side, the 
formidable array of the garrison, all blended into a 
scene of one vast expanse of the greatest contrast, 

1 See page 300. 
3 11 

3 i2 TWO GREAT DURBARS: 1893-4 

yet an imposing sight of ceremony. . . . The Khan 
arrived about 11.30 a.m., accompanied by his brother 
and Major Temple, the Political Agent of Khelat, and 
escorted by a bodyguard twenty-four strong. He 
was received at the arch by Major Gaisford, Political 
Agent, Quetta, and Captain Stratton, First Assistant 
to the Agent Governor-General, who accompanied 
him to the edge of the carpet, where he dismounted 
and was met by H. S. Barnes, Esq., C.S., the Revenue 
Commissioner, who conducted him to his seat, a Guard 
of Honour presenting arms and the band of the Prince 
of Wales' Grenadiers playing. 

"At 11.45 a - m - General Sir James Browne arrived 
accompanied by General Luck, escorted by their 
respective staffs and a detachment of cavalry. They 
were received at the edge of the platform by the Khan 
in company with Mr. Barnes, amid the usual salutes. 
After a slight pause, Sir James rose, and first thank- 
ing the ladies and gentlemen for the trouble they 
had taken in coming and thus showing the interest 
they felt in matters concerning the natives in this 
country, he addressed the Khan and the assemblage 
in Hindustani as follows : 

" ' Mir Mahmud Khan, Khan of Khelat, Beglar Begi 
and Wali of Khelat, Sardars of the Jirgah, Maliks, etc., 
You have assembled together on an auspicious day, 
viz. Friday, to witness a scene — the installation of the 
Khan — which but very few of those assembled here 
have ever witnessed before : an event which is the 
closing phase of the policy which has been hitherto 
followed — an episode which will not be forgotten by 
the spectators present as long as they live, and will 
be talked of hereafter long after all here have passed 

" 4 1 would remind you that Mir Mahmud Khan has 
for some time past been recognised as Khan by the 
Government in England, by the Government in India, 
by myself, and by the Sardars of the country both 
Jhallawan and Sarawan. I have to assure you that 
it would not have been possible, whether the present 
ceremony had taken place or not, for the Government 
to have retraced its steps in any case. The Govern- 
ment, as well as the Sardars of the Jirgah, have already 
taken the important step, in the interests of Beloo- 
chistan at large, of electing Mir Mahmud Khan as 



the Khan of Khelat, and neither the one nor the 
other could have retrogressed. On the present 
occasion, both in accordance with the immemorial 
custom of not only this, but many other nations, and 
also to make assurance doubly sure, Mir Mahmud 
Khan is about to be formally and publicly installed 
as Khan of Khelat, by myself as representative of 
the British Government — an event which has never 
before taken place in the annals of Beloochistan. 

" ' The occurrences which have led up to and rendered 
necessary the course of action which is terminating 
in the present climax is too fresh in your minds to 
need more than a passing reference on my part. 
Moreover, Sardars of Sarawan and Jhallawan, you 
were yourselves sharers and advisers in the course 
which has been taken, and which was as a matter of 
fact inevitable. You will bear in mind that the events 
which led to the necessity for the present installation 
were not sought by the British Government, but were 
forced on us. It will always be a source of great 
regret to me all my life that I have been the unwilling 
instrument for carrying out a course of policy which 
was not dictated by any personal feeling or desire 
to introduce changes into Beloochistan. What has 
taken place was done solely and entirely in the 
interests of the people of this country at large, and 
for the public benefit. 

" ' Khan Sahib W^ali of Khelat, I have to remind you 
of the high position which you have inherited as 
of right from your ancestors, and which it is my 
most earnest hope you will worthily fill, both with 
credit to yourself and with advantage to those who 
have been placed under you. You should primarily 
bear in mind all that is conveyed in the old-time 
motto, " marde az martaba khud majbar ast" — noblesse 
oblige. A man of high rank and lofty position is 
compelled to act with generosity and a keen sense 
of honour in order to maintain his self-respect as 
well as the regard of a whole nation. Of necessity 
you must do justice to yourself, to obtain the praise 
not of self-seekers and flatterers, but the disinterested 
praise of the great majority. By this alone can you 
escape the sense of shame attendant on the scorn 
and contumely which will inevitably follow if you 
act unjustly and dishonourably that you may benefit 


yourself or fill your treasury. Noblesse oblige — your 
position binds you and compels you to act honourably. 

Ui There is not, nor can there ever be, any real 
advantage obtainable from merely hoarding and filling 
your treasury with money extracted by oppression 
and tyranny from the hands of ryats, hardened by 
honest industry ; what matters it if your treasury be 
empty, if your bazaars be full ? When your streets 
are crowded, the revenue will of itself pour into your 
treasury in a ceaseless flood. It will not be necessary 
to oppress men in order to obtain it ; it will be 
readily and willingly paid without the exercise of 
force. Far better is it to spend wisely for the benefit 
of the country than to hoard and benefit neither your- 
self nor others, and in addition lose the respect and 
regard in which others will hold you. Just as neither 
heat nor benefit is obtainable from firewood until it is 
consumed, so neither pleasure nor happiness is obtain- 
able from money until it is spent. Do not think that 
because the wwking-man or the Government servant 
puts by money, therefore you should. The former 
saves mone}^ while he is earning it because he 
knows that the time must come when he cannot 
earn it. Your case is different. Your revenue is 
not for a term of years, but for the term of your 
life. It will not fail you because you have grown 
old. Money is a seed, which may bring forth tw T ofold 
or tenfold. 

" 1 He who scatters gold will gather a golden harvest ; 
but he who withholds his hand from the seed, from 
him will the harvest be withheld. Do not imagine 
that I am calling upon you to do what we do not do 
ourselves. Do not suppose that because the British 
Government spends generously it has a great hoard 
of money saved up and lying in the treasuries of 
the country. The Government has no money saved 
up whatever. It is enabled to spend because its 
revenue is immense, owing to the general sense of 
security and peace which pervades whole nations 
under the aegis of England. We do not want to 
hoard money — we can always get it, and it flows in 
because the land is cultivated, the people at rest, 
and the bazaars are full. So little is hoarded money 
a necessity that every civilised Government through- 
out the world is carried on by debt. However, I am 



not impressing on you the advisability of borrowing, 
but only the uselessness of objectlessly hoarding. 
There is one point to which I would specially call 
your attention — you must differentiate between your 
private fortune and the money which comes to you 
and which has to be spent for the public advantage. 
You must ever bear in mind that the State is not 
a mere mine out of which to dig money. A portion 
no doubt belongs to you, but a large share is in 
reality the right of the public, and should be employed 
on affairs which have to be taken up by Government 
because the public could not satisfactorily undertake 
them, such as roads, canals, the post, and a variety 
of other desiderata too numerous to mention. As 
Khan of Khelat you have undoubted rights — I have 
no wish to deprive you of them — but so also you 
have obligations, and you cannot divest yourself 
of them. Remember, moreover, that the greater 
your rights are the greater your obligations will be. 
If you claim the one, you must accept the other. 
You can no more have the rights only than you 
can have the pleasures of life only, such as taste, 
hearing, sight, etc., without the pains to which all 
flesh is heir without exception. The one is a natural 
concomitant of the other. Neither you nor I, nor 
the united force of all mankind, can alter such natural 
laws as those of rights and obligations. When money 
has accumulated it can no doubt be spent in a manner 
which for the time being may be pleasant, but which 
in the long run will not be beneficial either to the 
spender or to his reputation. A young man with 
unlimited money has no doubt temptations which I 
feel sure in your case will not be given way to. 

" ' Above all, Khan Sahib, I have to remind you that 
the road of tyranny, of oppression, of injustice, is 
the road which leads to your own downfall and ruin. 
As Khan you should provide yourself with care- 
fully selected subordinates. The British Government 
do not attempt to govern with a few men whose 
trustworthiness is a matter of doubt. Your country 
is large. Your employees constitute your eyes and 
your ears. Without them you can neither see nor 
hear. A ruler without information is as a man in 
the dark. It matters little what his individual 
acuteness may be ; it matters little to what pitch 

316 TWO GREAT DURBARS: 1893-4 

he may have been trained ; it will matter little what 
care he may have taken or to what pains he may 
have put himself : without reliable and correct in- 
formation, obtainable only from his subordinates, he 
is as a blind man groping in the dark, who knows 
and can know little of whither he may be going. 
The ultimate destination of the misguided blind 
who surrender the guidance of their destinies to 
those who cannot see is too much a matter of 
proverbial notoriety to need either explanation or 
allusion from me. 

" ' Sardars of the Jirgah and others, remember that 
if the Khan has his rights and obligations so also 
have you. Many of you are leaders of great tribes. 
As your positions are important so also is your 
influence far and ever wide and spread. Many cases 
are constantly in your hands for decision. 

" ' You the Sardars should remember that there 
are two sides to a question and that for years past 
enmity has existed between yourselves and the Khan. 
An admirable opportunity is now afforded you of 
burying all feelings of animosity. You should let 
bygones be bygones. You should endeavour on 
both sides to forget the traditional enmity which 
has hitherto so unfortunately existed. 

Should any difference hereafter arise, a court of 
arbitration will always be at hand, which both Khan 
and Sardars will be able to regard with confidence, 
as being unbiassed and ready to do justice on the 
evidence before it. In the reign of Nasir Khan the 
Great the greatest enmity in council existed between 
the Khan and the Sardars, and it should be the 
object of the Sardars to place all their experience, 
and the wisdom gained from age and knowledge, 
at the service of the Khan. To embarrass him will 
not benefit either party. 

" ' It is the wish of the British Government, and it 
has moreover been agreed to by the Khan, that the 
Jhallawan Sardars should be in as nearly the same 
position as possible as that enjoyed by the Sarawan 
Sardars. The Jhallawan Sardars have already had 
an exceptionally good opportunity of showing that 
they could further the wishes of the British Govern- 
ment. They have however hitherto foolishly refused 
to partake of the hospitality and kindness which 



it was our intention to extend to them, if they 
do not by their action, or inaction, prevent us from 
doing so. 

" 1 You should all remember that it is not my object 
in any sense to interfere with the ancient customs 
and laws of this state, as long as they are neither 
barbarous nor cruel. Indeed, I regard the maintenance 
of ancient usages as highly beneficial, and altogether 
advisable. Without changing your customs, you can 
graft on to them what is found to be most advisable 
and useful amongst the customs of other nations. 
You are all aware that the stones of good apricots 
and plums (alii bokhara) will not produce the best 
fruit if sown in the ground. It is necessary to take 
a bud or a graft from a good tree and make it grow 
on another root, before the best fruit is obtainable. 
So also before the best result will be obtained from 
the Belooch and Brahui nation, a carefully selected 
portion of what is best in the laws of other nations 
will have to be assimilated ; while the general body of 
the laws and customs is allowed to remain unchanged. 
The English have knowledge and experience which the 
Beloochees have not got. Whereas Belooch customs 
are no doubt in many ways better suited to the 
habits and customs of the Beloochees themselves, 
they should endeavour to take all that would benefit 
them from the English laws and customs and adopt 
them to the old Belooch stock. 

" ' Mir Mahmud Khan and Sardars, you should 
endeavour to strive not merely for your own ends, 
but also for the benefit of the mass. Let no man, 
either Khan, or Sardar, or subject, believe that he 
can ever satisfy himself by striving for himself alone, 
at the cost of pain to others. True happiness consists 
in securing the welfare of others. Do not think that 
what I have said is the accidental expression in words 
of fortuitous ideas and thoughts. I have thought 
carefully and spoken advisedly, in accordance with 
a proverb which may be paraphrased thus : " The 
Maker made man with two eyes, and two ears, and 
but one tongue, that he look twice and listen twice 
ere he speaks once." 

" ' A word or two more and I shall have done. 
There is an Arabic saying which reminds men that the 
world is but a bridge — " pass ye by it, ye cannot 

3i8 TWO GREAT DURBARS: 1893-4 

remain on it, the rest is unseen." Some day }'our time 
for leaving it will come. Do not believe then that your 
happiness will then consist in remembering that your 
treasury has been full — you cannot carry it away — 
or that you extracted value out of the hands of 
toilworn labourers, or that you killed this person, 
or made away with that individual. If you as Khan 
of Khelat have made good use of the opportunities 
fate may have thrown in your way, your pleasure 
will consist in remembering that you were in a 
position of the highest responsibility, and that 3'ou 
used it as a solemn trust from an unseen existing 
power, in bettering the lot of your subjects and 
others less fortunate than yourself. Do not imagine 
that because outrages may have been inflicted by 
rulers in times gone by, it is expedient or even 
possible to perpetrate them now. From the begin- 
ning of time to the present day the world has been 
a moving tide of change — indeed, there is no neces- 
sity to look back very far to assure yourself of this ; 
the time of an ordinary life affords quite sufficient 
experience. The wise ruler is he who accommodates 
his action to the feelings and beliefs of the time in 
which he lives. You cannot necessarily act now 
as you might have acted— and acted successfully — 
200 years ago. Your surroundings have greatly 
changed from what they once were. You also must 
change with them. Indeed, recent events have shown 
that it would now be impossible to act in the Khelat 
state in the manner in which action was taken even 
so short a time as one year back. The Government 
of Khelat as now constituted is like a building which 
is based upon a rock, that rock being the power 
of an empire whose rule extends over half the world. 
It is my duty to warn all that it is the set and 
deliberate purpose of the British Government that Mir 
Mahmud Khan should be maintained and supported 
in his position as long as he is worthy of it. Further, 
that any one contesting or opposing this determina- 
tion will have to deal with the whole might of the 
greatest empire in the world — assuredly such a one 
will ensure his own destruction sooner or later. It 
is my duty to say this. It is, however, with pleasure 
that I remind you that H.M. the Queen looks with- 
out doubt or fear on the Khan, and on the Sardars 


ot Beloochistan, as being the loyal defenders of her 
sovereignty on the frontier. 

" ■ Mir Mahmud Khan, now under the eyes of the 
British officers here present, in the presence of the 
leading Sardars of Beloochistan, in the hearing of 
your subjects, servants, the tribesmen and others, 
by the mandate of the Viceroy, under the orders 
of Government, I as Agent Governor-General and 
Chief Commissioner and representative of British 
authority, publicly proclaim you, Mir Mahmud Khan, 
to be Beglar Begi and Wali of Khelat.' 

"'The Khan briefly replied to Sir James in Hin- 
dustani as follows : 

<J ' I am very thankful to you, Sir James Browne, 
and also to His Excellency the Viceroy, for the kind 
treatment I have received at your hands. I can 
assure you that I will act righteously and uprightly, 
and will endeavour, to the best of my ability, to do 
good deeds which will please the British Govern- 
ment.' He then asked his Mustaufi to read the 
following on his behalf as an answer to Sir James's 
speech : 

" Officers, gentlemen, and Sardars, — To-day is that 
auspicious occasion on which by the mandate of 
Her Majesty the Queen Empress, and on behalf of 
His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General, 
General Sir James Browne has declared me Wali 
of my State. For this I tender my heartfelt thanks 
to Sir James, and through him to Her Majesty the 
Queen Empress and His Excellency the Viceroy. I 
have not taken the reins of the administration of 
my State in my own hands. I can assure you that 
to the best of my ability I will endeavour to act 
upon the kindly advice which Sir James has given 
me in your presence. I will treat my subjects with 
justice and kindness, and will always be a faithful 
ally to the British Government. The British Govern- 
ment too will, I beg, help me in all matters concerning 
my State. I will devote myself to make my country 
flourish and in bettering the position of my people. 

" ' I reiterate my cordial thanks to General Sir 
James Browne, and I hope that the friendly relations 
which now exist between my State and the British 
Government will remain for ever unchanged.' 

"At the conclusion of this khilats worth 25,000 

320 TWO GREAT DURBARS: 1893-4 

rupees, including a diamond sirpech worth Rs. 10,000, 
were presented to the Khan. The Belooch Sardars, 
led by Sir James, loudly called out 1 Mubarak 
baad } to the Khan : and thus ended this special 

Next year, however, a new Viceroy, Lord Elgin, 
who had come to India in the interval, visited Quetta 
and held a durbar of his own ; and as his address 
dealt almost entirely with the Khelat state and 
not the rule of British Beloochistan, the account of 
the proceedings on that occasion will now be given. 
The following is the Press account of the ceremony : — 

" The grand durbar, which had been eagerly looked 
forward to by the people of this province, came 
off this afternoon as arranged, with all the pomp and 
circumstance of a State ceremonial, and attracted large 
crowds of the native public, w r ho began to collect 
on the racecourse long before two o'clock. Every- 
thing that could be done to lend a gay and festive 
appearance to the grandstand was carried out with 
much taste by the responsible officials. A couple 
of triumphal arches, hung with yellow silk, and 
supporting the Star of India in the centre, were 
erected about two hundred yards on either side of 
the grandstand, the intervening space being marked 
off with vari-coloured Venetian masts with festoons 
of flags between. The dais, upon which were placed 
the viceregal throne and handsome silver-mounted 
chairs for His Highness the Khan and the Commander- 
in-chief, was richly carpeted with gold Kashmiri work 
upon a red ground. The middle and upper tiers of 
the stand were occupied by ladies and other visitors, 
while a special box was railed off for the countess, and 
the highest tier accommodated such members of the 
European and Parsi communities as had obtained 
tickets. Below the dais, and to the right of it, were seated 
in consecutive order the superior native Government 
officials, Sarawans, Jhallaw r ans, Quetta Sardars and 
Maliks, Pesheen Sardars and Maliks, Khojak Sardars 
and Maliks, the municipality and minor officials. To 
the left were the officials of His Highness the Khan 


and the Jam, and Thul Chotiali and Zhob Sardars 
and Maliks. Inside the oval formed by the course the 
whole of the troops in garrison were massed facing 
the stand, the infantry in the centre, the heavy 
batteries to the right and left, and the mountain 
battery and Sappers and Miners in the rear. The 
7th Bombay Lancers lined the road from the Residency 
to the course. 

" The first important personage to arrive was the 
Jam of Lus Beyla, who was accompanied by Captain 
Stratton, the newly appointed Political Agent for 
South-eastern Beloochistan. Next followed the 
Commander-in-chief and Mrs. Luck, who in turn 
were followed by the Countess of Elgin and Miss 
Browne, and in quick succession came Sir James 
Browne, Captain Manners Smith, His Highness the 
Khan of Khelat with his younger brother Mir Bahram 
Khan, accompanied by Major Temple. Punctually 
at 3.13 His Excellency the Viceroy, in the robes of 
the Grand Master of the Indian Empire, was driven 
up in a State carriage and four with outriders, 
accompanied by the Secretary of the Order, Mr. 
Cuningham, Foreign Secretary and an aide-de-camp. 
When His Excellency's carriage came in sight the 
artillery fired thirty-one guns, and when nearing 
the stand the troops gave the royal salute, the 
band playing the National Anthem. 

" His Excellency having taken his seat, Sir James 
Browne stepped forward and introduced the Khan, 
and addressing the Viceroy gave a brief historical 
sketch of Beloochistan and its people during the 
last decade, dwelling with a high eulogium upon 
the services of Sir Robert Sandeman, the Agent 
of the Governor-General. He went on to draw a 
vivid picture of Beloochistan before the advent of 
that distinguished statesman, and having explained 
to His Excellency the different clans and tribes 
represented by the Chiefs and Maliks sitting before 
him, concluded with a fitting acknowledgment of the 
aid he had received during his term of office from 
the officials of the Agency. 

" The Foreign Secretary then stepped forward and 
read Her Majesty's warrant directing His Excellency 
to confer upon His Highness the Khan of Khelat 
the insignia of Grand Commander of the Indian 


322 TWO GREAT DURBARS: 1893-4 

Empire, to which Her Majesty has been pleased to 
appoint him. His Highness was then conducted 
to the left of the dais by the Secretary and Under 
Secretary of the Foreign Departments, who invested 
him with the robe and sash of the Order and fixed 
the star to his left breast, and presented him to 
His Excellency, who put the collar of the Order round 
his neck. The assembly having taken their seats, after 
standing during the reading of the royal warrant, the 
Grand Master, remaining seated, spoke as follows : 

" ' Your Highness, Chiefs and Sardars of the Khelat 
State and the Beloochistan Agency, — Nearly five years 
have passed since my predecessor met you here. 
By the inexorable laws of human existence such a 
period must bring in its train many changes, whether 
for good or evil, and I could not expect to find 
myself here under circumstances precisely similar to 
those of Lord Lansdowne's visit. To one of those 
changes, which I know every one here deplores, I 
should like to allude at the outset. Lord Lansdowne 
described the officer standing at his side as one 
"who has the confidence of the Government of India, 
and whose name will for all time be honourably 
connected with this portion of the Indian Empire." 
I had not the privilege of the acquaintance of Sir 
Robert Sandeman, but there are some cases in which 
the record is plain beyond dispute. There can be 
no doubt that by Sir Robert Sandeman's premature 
death the Government of India lost an officer to 
whose indomitable courage and perseverance they 
owed much, and the people of Beloochistan a friend 
whose knowledge of them and trust in them they 
recognised by returning to him the largest measure 
of confidence. I have been glad to observe in Quetta 
many signs that his name is fresh in your remem- 
brance. I am glad to learn that the more permanent 
tribute to his memory which you contemplate will 
take a form that will bear testimony to his belief 
in and respect for your native institutions. I shall 
be more glad to see and hear evidence of increasing 
prosperity in Quetta and Beloochistan, because we 
can, in my opinion, find no better means of honouring 
him than by carrying on his life's work. I must 
also unite with you in lamenting the deaths of Sir 
Assad Khan, Chief of the Sarawans, and Sardar 


Shingul Khan, Chief of Zhob. They were men from 
whom the Government had received much assistance, 
cut short by their untimely deaths. 

" ' Turning from these melancholy topics to the 
history of the district, I find here too changes which 
the progress of events has made inevitable. I do not 
intend to recapitulate the circumstances which re- 
sulted in Your Highness being called upon to assume 
the Government of Khelat. They will no doubt be 
fresh in the memory of my hearers. Although the 
time has as yet been short, it has been necessary 
for Your Highness to come to some decisions of im- 
portance for the welfare of your State, and I rejoice 
to be assured by Sir James Browne, than whom 
Your Highness has no warmer friend, that you, in 
the policy you have adopted, have shown that you 
have a due sense of the responsibilities of your 
position. We, the British Government, look to Your 
Highness so to administer the affairs of Khelat that 
peace, good order, and contentment may prevail 
within its borders. That is the return which we 
have a right to claim for the protection which we 
can secure to you from outside aggression, and which 
we are now making more definite by the demarcation 
of the frontier. We seek not to interfere with the 
local administration. It is our settled policy to pay 
all the respect we can, here and elsewhere, to the 
laws and usages, religious and social, to which the 
people are accustomed. Rightly administered they 
will best supply the needs of the people, and it is 
for Your Highness, with the advice and assistance 
of your chiefs and counsellers, to see that it cannot 
be laid to your charge that they have failed through 
want of energy or good-will on your part. 

" ' Your Highness, Chiefs and Sardars, I do not 
think I can use a more powerful argument than 
ask you to look around. There must be men here 
present who can remember this prospect before us 
when it showed neither house, nor tree, nor cultivated 
field. The material prosperity, which we can almost 
see growing around us, can be yours if you choose 
to take it. It is the duty of a ruler to make a good 
use of the resources of his State. If they are not 
used properly, or if they are not used at all for 
the purposes of public utility, depend upon it not 


only will the resources of the State decay, but the 
difficulties of managing the State will increase ; but 
if they are wisely expended, they will return to you 
a hundredfold. The railway has opened up to you 
the markets of the world. It is for you to step in 
and reap the profits. You have a country which 
can supply fruit and other agricultural produce, 
which is well fitted for the breeding of horses, and 
whose mineral resources are undeveloped. It is with 
much satisfaction that I have heard that Your High- 
ness, by your gracious treatment of the Jhallawans, 
has shown your readiness to encourage those who 
will lay aside ancient feuds and live a peaceable life. 
It has also been wisely determined to construct a 
road to Khelat, for nothing will better help the de- 
velopment of your country than additions made to 
the facilities for travel. Your Highness knows well 
that in the representative of the British Government 
you have an adviser of great experience, who has 
deserved your confidence, and I counsel you to take 
advantage of his assistance, and if the services of 
officers trained in works of any description be re- 
quired, so as to enable you to construct them most 
economically and to the best advantage, there will 
be no difficulty in putting them at your disposal. 

" 1 Your Highness, Chiefs and Sardars, I have 
thought it incumbent on me to speak to you words 
of counsel on this occasion. It is, I think, an occasion 
of some importance to the future of Beloochistan. 
I rejoice that, coming here as I do, on the earliest 
possible opportunity, I am able to see the germs of 
a prosperous future for this country. I rejoice that it 
is my privilege to convey to Your Highness, by means 
of the ceremony in which we have just taken part, 
the assurance that Her Majesty the Queen-Empress 
sympathises with and appreciates the efforts which 
Your Highness is making to develop the prosperity 
of your territory and its inhabitants. I trust that 
the encouragement thus given by Her Majesty will 
stimulate Your Highness to persevere in the course 
of progress, and if, as is most likely, my visit is not 
repeated, that my successor, when he follows me, 
will be able to congratulate you on the realisation 
of the hopes which I have ventured to foreshadow. 

" 1 Chiefs and Sardars, knowing the loyalty which 


has animated you in the past, I cannot but think that 
in the honour now done to His Highness you will 
feel you have a share. I call upon you to recollect 
it. His Highness may have a hold of the reins, but 
he will need willing hands to help him in his work. 
See that you do not fail him. And to those here 

F resent, who are more directly subject to British rule, 
would only add that the Government of India, while 
it cannot tolerate or permit disorder, is ready and 
willing to recognise and reward true and loyal service. 
I must bid you farewell. I shall carry with me deeply 
engraven in my memory the scene now before me, 
and the interest which it inspires in me for the people 
of Beloochistan will animate me with a desire to 
remain your firm friend in time to come.' 

" This speech having been translated to His High- 
ness and the chiefs by Mirza Abdulla, Mir Munshi to 
the Agency, khilats were offered by the Khan of 
Khelat, the Jam of Lus Beyla and the principal chiefs 
and Sardars, who were afterwards presented to His 
Excellency by the political agents of their respective 
districts — those from Khelat by Major Temple, those 
from Quetta and Pesheen by Colonel Gaisford, and 
those from Zhob and Thul Chotiali by Captain Archer 
— after which His Excellency left the durbar under 
a royal salute, accompanied by the Foreign Secretary 
and an aide-de-camp ; the various chiefs and high 
Government officers following in the same order they 
arrived. A conspicuous figure in the assembly was 
the far-famed Mr. Bux, decked in his dress and sword 
of honour, his breast decorated with the Kabul 
mission medal of 1893, who in his own line has con- 
tributed materially to the pleasure of the viceregal 

"Their Excellencies the Viceroy and the Countess 
of Elgin and the Commander-in-chief patronised the 
club theatre in the evening, where a variety enter- 
tainment, followed by the comedietta The Duchess 
of Bayswater and Co., was given by the Quetta 
amateurs, who well sustained their reputation on 
the occasion. After dark a few of the highest peaks 
on the hills round Quetta were bright with bonfires, 
and the effect was pretty. 

" To-morrow morning His Excellency the Viceroy 
leaves with a portion of his staff by the Bolan route 

326 TWO GREAT DURBARS: 1893-4 

in charge of Mr. Hodson, the Engineer-in-chief, who 
will show his lordship all the interesting points of this 
interesting line, which it is estimated will be ready in 
a couple of years. The countess proceeds by special 
train via Hurnai to await Lord Elgin's arrival at Sibi, 
while His Excellency the Commander-in-chief goes by 
ordinary mail to Hyderabad and Karachi, so that in a 
few hours Quetta will be deprived of the distinguished 
visitors whose arrival and stay here have been talked 
of for months gone by. Much credit is due to 
Mr. Richie and Mr. Hawkes, the district locomotive 
and traffic superintendents, for the care and assiduity 
with which they have studied the comfort of their 
excellencies during their journeys, and to Mr. 
McNally, station-master at Quetta, for his untiring 
attentions and excellent platform arrangements.'' 


AFGHANISTAN : 1888-96 


\ I 7 E have now dealt fully with Browne's relations 

with Khelat and British Beloochistan and 

the chief public ceremonials that were held 
in connection with them. It remains to describe his 
proceedings and attitude to the two neighbouring 
territories, Afghanistan and Scinde. There is no 
necessity to refer specially to any connection with 
the Punjab ; but in a later part his own criticism 
will be given of the methods and practice prevalent 
in the Punjab as contrasted with those that had been 
adopted for Beloochistan. 

To turn, then, to South Afghanistan. Apart from 
the various direct functions of his administrative 
post, Browne was occasionally troubled with political 
correspondence with neighbouring states across the 
borders, and thus had to deal with grievances of 
which the features became sometimes very unpleasant. 
One of these cases may be described, without 
mentioning the specific facts. A high Afghan official 
had, in connection with a tribal quarrel, raided into 
Beloochistan and carried off some families and 
prisoners who were obnoxious to the Ameer or his 


AFGHANISTAN : 1888-96 

people. As usual in such raids, some murders and 
barbarities were committed. The raid had been 
made from a position where the Afghans had no 
business to be at all, and where they ostentatiously 
immured their captives in the local gaol. This deed 
caused much excitement, was widely known, and 
was regarded as a deliberate and wanton defiance 
by the Afghan authorities of the British Government. 
The matter had of course to be finally settled between 
the ruling powers, but in the meanwhile Browne 
stopped the carriage into Afghanistan of a large 
kafila of warlike stores then on its way for the 
Ameer through Beloochistan, and took some of the 
people as hostages, made some reprisals, and 
established a " close border " on the southern frontier 
while on the other hand remaining most friendly 
on the northern. He desired to adopt this policy 
permanently, and urged it on the Government. 

What he advocated was a system of direct local 
reprisals against the petty authorities actually im- 
plicated, as in contrast with the policy of spreading 
the origin of the wrong-doing and implicating higher 
authorities. " Arsenic in small doses " as contrasted 
with " large doses " was his symbol ; and a specific 
point was the studious avoidance of allowing 
extraneous matters, such as Russian intrigue, being 
named, still more of dragging them into the question ; 
on the principle that you may slap an elephant's 
trunk when you do not think of stroking a tiger's 
snout. Browne was strong on the view that the 
suppression of the local misdeeds of Afghans by 
local action was a sound practical policy and not 
beneath the diplomacy or the dignity of the great 
Government of India — practical because it tended 
to force the Ameer to recognise the fact that the 



local lieutenants of that Government were trusted 
to watch his, the Ameer's, officers and check their 
misdeeds vigorously : to give sharp and decisive 
ripostes to acts of insolence. Browne was en- 
couraged in his views and methods by his knowledge 
of their being in entire unison with those of his 
predecessor Sandeman. 

One factor in our relations with Afghanistan that 
may be alluded to is the question of Seistan. Its 
importance lay in its geographical position at the 
junction of three empires, combined with the 
attraction it seemed to possess for Russian intrigues. 
But beyond the fact that he kept a keen watch on it, 
Browne did not — overtly at any rate — meddle with 
the questions connected with it. 

During the regime of Sir James Browne's dis- 
tinguished predecessor, Sir Robert Sandeman, the 
relations between the authorities of Scinde and 
Beloochistan had unfortunately not been of a very 
cordial character, for originally the Commissioner 
in Scinde was also Political Agent for Beloochistan. 
Sir William Merewether was the last apostle of the 
old school, who believed not in meddling beyond the 
border, even to suppress tribal feuds or anarchy. 
He held that the policy of the British Govern- 
ment should be restricted to calling on the Khan of 
Khelat to keep order, and to sending the Scinde 
horse to coerce him, or to punish outlaws whenever 
they interfered with British subjects. Sir Robert 
Sandeman discovered a better way — at any rate, a way 
more pleasing to the Government of India. The 
policy of non-interference was abandoned, and the 
pacification of Beloochistan was placed in Sir 
Robert's hands entirely. Such a change could not 
but create a feeling akin to soreness and jealousy 

330 AFGHANISTAN: 1888-96 

in Scinde, which lasted more or less till Sir Robert 
Sandeman's death. It was one of Sir James Browne's 
achievements, by tact and the wonderful charm of 
his personality, to quench such feelings entirely. 
The Commissioner of Scinde on one side of the border 
soon took as much pleasure in supporting the Agent 
to the Governor-General as did the Agent to the 
Governor-General in backing the Commissioner in 
Scinde. This cordial relation between the chiefs 
quickly extended to the subordinates, and friction 
between the officers of Beloochistan and Scinde, 
which previously had been the cause of some injury 
to the public service, ceased at once and for ever. 

The wild frontier of Scinde, with its frowning hills, 
is the home of fierce Beloochee and Brahui tribes, 
accustomed for generations to internecine feuds, varied 
by raids on the quiet, well-to-do plains of Scinde. 
Half a century of good management by wardens of the 
marches such as Frere, Jacob, and the brothers 
Green had contributed greatly to tame the Beloochees. 
Their razzias were repelled, and many were induced 
to take up the role of peaceful cultivators. But 
even after our occupation of Quetta the Old Adam 
still remained strong ; and occasionally adventurers 
would trespass into Scinde and collect tribute, harry 
flocks of camels or sheep or goats, or take bloody 
revenge for some fancied wrong or in the pursuit 
of some old vendetta. On the other hand Scinde 
subjects would trespass beyond the boundary ; or 
the Scinde police, feeling themselves protected by the 
omnipotent British Government, would go beyond 
their jurisdiction, exceed their powers, and collision 
between them and the tribes would be the result. 
On one occasion the inspector of a body of Scinde 
Frontier Police, the chief of the tribe of Chuttos, 



actually marched with his men, servants of the 
British Government, to attack a rival chief, and wipe 
out some ancestral quarrel. Incidents of this kind 
were calculated to raise bad blood between the 
Agency and Scinde, more especially when the tribal 
levies were organised and entrusted with the duty 
of keeping order in Beloochistan. But, thanks to 
Sir James Browne's influence, justice was always 
done to the Scindees so far as the circumstances ad- 
mitted of justice — murderers were seized and handed 
over, stolen camels were restored, and the people 
on either side of the border felt that they could no 
longer play the authorities of Beloochistan against 
Scinde or of Scinde against Beloochistan ; a kind of 
policy which even the most barbarous of Orientals are 
astute enough to use successfully, if the opportunity 
be given them. Scinde having been British territory 
for fifty years, its police organisation was better than 
in Beloochistan, where Sir James Browne had to 
depend on the chiefs of the tribes ; so the Scinde 
authorities were perhaps able to do more for Sir 
James Browne than he could for Scinde. But his 
strong hand kept the Beloochistan tribes in order, 
and, taking it all round, the trouble which they gave 
to Scinde was not worth mentioning. 

So long as women and camels and horses exist, 
so long must outrages from Beloochees be looked 
for. In illustration of the difference between the two 
countries of Scinde and Beloochistan, the treatment 
of the murderers of faithless wives may be instanced. 
The Beloochees pride themselves on the honour of 
their women, and can point with justifiable satisfaction 
to the fact that such a thing as a Beloochee public 
woman does not exist, and to maintain this high 
standard they fail not, often very harshly, to 

332 AFGHANISTAN: 1888-96 

slaughter any woman whose chastity is even doubtful. 
Beloochee women are not kept behind the purdah, 
but are free as their English sisters. Yet a smile 
or even a glance at another man has often proved 
the death of a poor girl. A junta is formed of the 
two families — the husband's and the wife's : if ground 
for the smallest suspicion can be proved, she is 
condemned to death, and she either hangs herself in 
the presence of the family, or one of her own rela- 
tions, her father or brother, acts as her executioner. 
Later on, the adulterer, or suspected adulterer, is 
searched for, and a favourable opportunity taken for 
hewing him to pieces with the sword. 

In Scinde we are able to punish the murderers to 
a certain extent. Trial under ordinary law would 
be useless, as no one would give evidence. But a 
jirgah, or conclave of chiefs, presided over by a 
British officer, is held, which, like the original Saxon 
jurors, finds a verdict according to the chiefs' own 
knowledge of the case, and makes its recommendation, 
which may amount to a fine and the giving of a bride 
to the injured party. This sentence the British 
officer in Scinde may supplement by the imprisonment 
of the murderer for from one to even seven years. 
In Beloochistan proper, public opinion is not so far 
advanced, and Sir James Browne was compelled to 
leave murderers of this kind to be dealt with entirely 
by the tribal chiefs. 

At Jacobabad, on the frontier of Upper Scinde, a 
great gathering takes place annually in the cold 
weather, the principal feature of which is a horse 
show. The Beloochee mares are famous, and Upper 
Scinde is one of the best breeding-grounds for young 
stock suitable for cavalry regiments. Consequently, 
to improve the breed, the Bombay Government long 


ago introduced a supply of foreign sires, principally 
English thoroughbreds ; annual prizes for the mares 
and the young stock are given, and races are held 
at which the Beloochee chiefs eagerly compete. Sir 
James Browne and his staff used to come down from 
Sibi to attend the meet, and took part in the Commis- 
sioner's durbar. Accompanying him were the great 
chiefs from the neighbouring hills, the Bhoogtees, 
the Murrees, the Jakranees, Dumbkees, Khosas, and 
others, some of them owning land in Scinde, and all 
of them with tribesmen and followers in that province. 

The cordial relations between Sir James Browne 
and the Scinde authorities could not fail to strike them, 
more particularly when the Commissioner was wel- 
comed by the Agent to the Governor-General at Sibi, 
at the annual gathering of the councils of elders, a 
few weeks later. At this meeting numerous matters 
were discussed and settled amicably between the 
Agent to the Governor-General and the Commissioner 
— which would formerly have involved a prolonged 
and perhaps an acrimonious correspondence — both 
sides being animated by the sole desire to do what 
might be best and fairest for all parties. 

Sir Robert Sandeman had founded a charming 
hill station at Ziarat in the Suliman range not far 
from the Hurnai railway station, on the Hurnai 
Valley line, a peaceful sort of spot, such as a stranger 
could hardly believe existed within twenty-four hours 
of Jacobabad, where the thermometer goes up in 
the shade to 128 Fahr. in the hot weather, and some- 
times remains for days at 100 Fahr. both day and 
night. It was very desirable that the officers of 
Upper Scinde should have settlement there, in which 
they might occasionally find refuge from the scorch- 
ing heat of the plains. So Sir James Browne was 



addressed, and he not only threw himself heartily 
into the scheme, but assigned a most excellent site 
for the purpose. He made his Engineers convey 
water to the site for the waterworks, and design 
and supervise the construction of the buildings. 

Sir James Browne's personal qualities had much 
to do with his commanding influence. His sturdy 
physique and giant strength were alone sufficient to 
command respect among the tribes who are themselves 
remarkable for physical beauty and vigour. In spite 
of his quiet, gentle manner, the flash of his eye sufficed 
to indicate the great force of character behind, and 
all, whether English or native, who had business to 
transact with him would recognise at once that they 
were face to face with a ruler of men. Strong and 
unyielding in regard to the principles that he felt 
were right, or the measures which he knew to be 
required, no man knew better than he did that all 
projects that were desirable were not necessarily 
practicable, owing, it may be, to financial or political 
considerations ; and then he wisely rested content 
with what was feasible, although, as he used to 
say, his energy in pressing his views did not 
always make him too popular with the powers that 
be. " In all the business which I had to transact with 
him personally," — wrote a Scinde official — " none, 
I am bound to say, of first-class importance (and 
that fact alone is proof of the general tranquillity 
which prevailed on the Scinde border under his rule), 
I never found him unreasonable, never obstinate. 
On the contrary he always seemed to try to look at 
things from my point of view, just as I endeavoured 
to do from his, and make allowances for difficulties, 
such as the hard-and-fast laws of the British districts 
and the financial impotence of the Commissioner in 


Scinde, and then to come to a fair and honest mutual 
settlement. It was a great relief to feel that on the 
border there was so strong and just a ruler who was 
anxious to help and determined to stand no nonsense 
either from petulant subordinates or from obstreperous 
chiefs. And as a personal friend and host none 
could be more hospitable and considerate." 

In the preceding pages Browne's administration of 
his combined charge has been dealt with, and the 
several features and circumstances described. But 
apart from his actual proceedings, his work em- 
braced not only the duties of Government, but the 
consideration of the controversies respecting the 
policy and the method for the control and the welfare 
of the province. He left voluminous papers on the 
subject, but their essential points only can be here 
dealt with, and these will now be shown. 

It has to be borne in mind that the period of his 
rule was one of change and controversy, and that 
while his own views and policy were in disfavour and 
were set aside during the latter years of his own 
administration, they were adopted in toto a few years 
afterwards, and applied not only to Beloochistan, but 
to the whole of the transfrontier, which was entirely 
severed from the Punjab and constituted a separate 
province, on a thoroughly non-regulation system — 
the initial system adopted on the annexation of the 
Punjab, under which Sir Henry Lawrence ruled the 
province so wonderfully for two years — and precisely 
what Browne had so vehemently urged, from the 
very first. 

Browne did not live to see this change, this re- 
version to the policy on which such districts were all 
originally started, but which it was the persistent 
aim of another school of rulers to subvert as speedily 



as possible. It remained for Lord Curzon to reintro- 
duce the non-regulation policy, and to insist on a 
recognition of the wholly different circumstances — 
under which, respectively, government by regulations 
is necessary in the one case, and paternal govern- 
ment in the other. It is almost impossible to de- 
scribe correctly the result of the introduction of 
administration by courts and regulations into the 
country of such a primitive race as the Beloochees 
then were — the feeling of utter helplessness, of utter 
darkness, as it were — and afterwards the contrasting 
result of the reversion to non-regulation, to open-air 
justice, to patriarchal rule, when the people had the 
most complete, unswerving, childlike trust in the 
wisdom and paternal care of the rulers set over them. 

The whole subject was one to which Browne 
gave the closest attention ; of which the outcome 
may well be summarised at this stage, though in- 
cidentally a good many of its phases have been 
touched upon in previous chapters. 

The point to note was the difference between the 
condition of affairs on the northern or Punjab 
frontier and that in the southern districts where 
Sandeman had been able to work with a free hand. 
Although the Punjab frontier had for some thirty 
years been governed by a succession of such grand 
officers as the Lawrences, Edwardes, Mackeson, 
John Nicholson, James, Cavagnari, and others, no 
British officer could venture to move about without 
an escort. Southwards, however, Sandeman's per- 
sonal influence and methods had in a short time 
led to the removal of all alien and unpleasant feeling, 
to a full and natural intercourse between the people 
and the British resident among them, and to the 
cessation of feuds among the tribes. 



In part, no doubt, this was due to the fact that 
the southern tribes were for the most part the more 
genial Beloochees, whereas the northern were pre- 
vailingly Pathan ; and to the Beloochee clan system 
of obedience to chiefs or Tumandars, as distinguished 
from the democratic equality of the members of 
Pathan tribes. To this may be added the condition 
of the northern borders at the time when British 
dominion was substituted for that of the Sikhs, with 
the attendant development of religious fanaticism 
then and afterwards. 

Browne used to dwell on the absence of any 
bitter feeling in the Beloochees, whatever the feuds 
or quarrels might be. They were always ready to 
fight, but also always ready to cease fighting if 
properly approached. They were always inclined 
to give a jocular turn to their quarrels — as in 
the case of the abduction by the Lagharee chief of 
Captain Grey, a deputy commissioner, with whom he 
was at issue. Sandeman had realised thoroughly 
how they could be best conciliated and managed. 
His methods and measures with the Murrees and 
Bhoogtees were like a play. The last of this class 
to be brought into the friendly fold were the Bozdors, 
with whom our relations had been steadily improving 
ever since 1871. 

But besides these explanations, Browne laid stress 
on defects in the Punjab system and methods which 
made them ill adapted for controlling and concili- 
ating the tribesmen. First of these was the unsatis- 
factory manner in which military expeditions were 
habitually carried through ; being always followed 
by immediate withdrawal, without the establishment 
of any permanent position from which the tribes- 
men could be held in check. Thus within his 


338 AFGHANISTAN: 1888-96 

own personal experience was included an expedition 
against Kohat which ended in four days ; whereas 
if it had lasted somewhat longer, so as to admit of 
the construction of works to command the end of 
the pass, the tribe would not have been able to 
worry and defy the British, as it did, for some 
forty years. 

Secondly, there was the mischief of employing 
natives of the country, or members of the tribes, as 
middlemen between the British Government and the 
tribesmen. Instances where this custom has proved 
fatal are numerous, as in the case of Agror, the 
Eusufzais, the Khalil and Mohmand Arbabs, the 
Kohat Pass, Miranzai Valley, etc. On which head 
an extract may be quoted from a very able minute 
by H.E. Lord Lytton, Viceroy and Governor-General 
of India : 

" Again, for the reasons given above, I think 
that the employment of Arbabs, or middlemen, 
should be discontinued as much as possible. I do 
not myself believe that it strengthens our hold 
even upon the small class we thus employ. For 
every man gratified by employment, a host of 
jealousies are raised against him and ourselves. 
There is some reason to fear that these personages are 
not altogether incapable of provoking or promoting 
difficulties on the frontier in the hope of increasing 
their own importance ; and the police authorities at 
Peshawur have now ascertained that one of the 
Arbabs most trusted by the Punjab Government on 
that frontier was carrying on, a few months ago, a 
treasonable correspondence with persons in Cabul, 
which nothing but the man's death enabled us to 
detect. I admit, however, that there are many 
occasions on which the services of Arbabs have been, 
and may again be, most valuable to us, especially 
in opening communication with frontier tribes ; but 
I think that, whenever their services can be dispensed 
with, and direct communications opened or maintained 


by our own authorities, this should be done. Even 
if we could always depend upon the absolute loyalty 
of Arbabs, these men cannot convey to the native 
the same clear idea of our views and character 
that he would gain by personal intercourse with 
British officers." (Para. 63 of Minute by the Viceroy 
of India, dated April 22nd, 1877.) 

Clear and prophetic words these ; would that the 
Punjab had taken warning even when they were 
written, but it was deaf to all plain speaking. Again 
referring to Major James, Lord Lytton said : 

" I have before me a minute by Major James, in 
which, as the result of thirteen years' frontier ex- 
perience, he expresses himself most strongly as to 
the absolute impossibility of combining a proper 
intercourse with the Border tribes with the execu- 
tion of his civil duties, and this Major James I hear 
spoken of from all quarters as one of the ablest 
and most active administrators the frontier has 

Third, Browne noted : 

" The failure of the Punjab system to win the 
tribesmen over, owing to our overworked European 
staff. No chance of the tribesmen getting any 
sympathy or being in touch with our officials; the 
centralisation of power in Lahore ; and the fear of 
the district executive taking any responsibility. 
An officer once happily remarked that the Punjab 
is existing on the history made for it by a body of 
gallant officers who have long ago passed away from 
it. Very true; and just as Napoleon's presence in the 
ranks of the French army was supposed to be equal 
to 40,000 men, so the halo of these officers of the 
Punjab has cast a glamour on the destinies of the model 
province which it had no right to share in — and 
as history proves the province has no claim to be 
proud now of the position which it at one time held. 
Beloochistan, on the contrary, is living on what 
Sandeman and his officials have done for it in the 

340 AFGHANISTAN: 1888-96 

present generation, and we must wait and see what 
happens when he and his present officials have 
passed away from us, and whether the work they 
have done and the position they have secured is 
likely to be continued to their successors. Let us 
hope it will." 

As special instances of the manner in which the 
officials of the Punjab were liable to overwork, 
Browne commented on : 

1. The officialdom and heavy desk work introduced 
and the high court with its system and demands. 

2. The especial overwork of the European staff — 
the work being gradually increased by an enormous 
accumulation of new functions, and returns, and 
duties ; which all forced them to devote to desk work 
time which should have been spent in the district 
in personal contact with the villagers, peasantry, and 
native gentry. 

3. The corresponding difficulty, on the part of the 
latter and of the tribesmen, in having access to their 
officers, getting into proper touch with them, or 
obtaining from them the sympathy which was the 
essence of the old success. 

4. The centralisation of power at Lahore, and the 
fear and reluctance of the district executives to take 
personal responsibility without prior reference. 

The requirements which Sandeman and Browne 
had so fully realised as essential, and had boldly 
carried out, were : 

1. Personal control, with unwearied and unchecked 

2. The avoidance of undue laws and regulations. 

3. The free and unchecked intercourse of the 
officials with the people. 

4. The intercourse with the people being exhaustive 


as to area from the borders of the district at all points 
to its capital. 

Now that Browne was back in Quetta, and in a 
conspicuous position, it was certain that his appa- 
rently mysterious identification with the Mullah 
of Mukkur should grow and spread, and we may 
note some of its latest and most marked phases. 
While on his journey to assume the charge of the 
Agency, he was waiting at the Bostan junction of 
the Quetta Railway, and there addressed three Afghans 
on the platform, who were evidently in search of 
some one. They said they wanted to see the new 
Agent, and so he said he was General Browne. They 
recognised him at once with effusion as their friend 
the Mullah at Mukkur, though changed by the loss 
of the beard. The spokesman's name was Syud 
Allum, and he related that he was the son of another 
Mullah, named Jungoo, with whom he asserted 
Browne had lived for two years, and detailed his 
family history and present state, including the ladies 
of his family. Finally he promptly and laughingly 
quizzed Browne on the continuance of his old 
mistakes in grammar and pronunciation, as being 
unchanged from the days when they lived together ! 
Browne asked him to relate fully the circumstances 
of those days, which he promised to do. Syud 
Allum then returned home, saying that possibly his 
mother would come back with him to Quetta to pay 
her respects to her old friend. Next September 
the Syud returned, without his mother, however, 
as being unfit for the journey, but with presents 
from her ; and he then gave Browne the following 
narrative or statement which he had drawn up as 



" Statement of Syuci Allum, Tajik of Uchterkheyl, a 
village of N ourozi-Vihid, district Mukkur, province 
of Ghuznee ; and of his two brothers. 

" Quetta, dated May 20th, 1892. 

"I am a Syud, and a Tajik mullah (priest) of 
Uchterkheyl ; and my father, Mullah Jungoo, who was 
even then " {i.e. about sixteen or eighteen years before) 
"very old, was a man of much learning and piety, 
and had much influence in Mukkur. At that time 
Browne Sahib came to my father's house, and they 
made a great friendship. My father at first thought 
he was a Syud and a fakeer (religious mendicant), 
and was much pleased at his great Koran knowledge, 
which he said he had learned as a Talib-i-ilm (pupil) 
in the Bokhara Madrisa (College). Browne Sahib 
was then a fakeer, and my father met him in the 
hujra (guest-house), and they used to read prayers 
in turns together in the mosque, and do all the work 
(connected with) praying. After a short time Browne 
Sahib, having made my father swear on the Koran, 
told him that he was a Feringee (European), and had 
come from Peshawur through Cabul, but was become 
a Mussulman ; that he would be returning to, and 
then be coming back from, Bokhara, after seeing the 
country, and would bring soldiers with him, and 
would establish a good government for Mahomedans. 
Was it not therefore advantageous to my father (to 
befriend him) ? To my father this seemed befitting, 
and for two years Browne Sahib lived always in our 
house. Many friends and disciples came to him, 
and to his words ; and it was arranged that many 
mallicks (chiefs) of the Ghilzyes and Tajiks, Tarukkis, 
Andars, Tokhis, Khotuks, Suleyman Kheyl, etc., would 
help when the time of fighting came. 

" On many occasions my father used to be troubled 
because Browne Sahib played with dogs, and teased 
them as sahibs do, which is not befitting a mullah, 
as dogs are unclean ; and a tazi (greyhound) was 
always with him, even at times of prayer. We used 
to eat bread (dine) in our house together for many 
days, and my mother used to kiss the coat of Browne 
Sahib, and touch his beard for the giving of the 
nufs (holy breath) and prayers. One day a woman 
called Zulika, who was a friend of my mother Gula, 


and often was remaining in our house, laughed 
because the touching of a dog was not becoming to 
a priest ; and then Zulika questioned my mother, 
and her own husband Agha, as to why this was. 
My father, having consulted with Browne Sahib, 
told Agha that in truth the mullah (priest) was a 
Feringee (European) to whom dogs are as friends, 
but was with his heart a Mussulman. Agha and 
Zulika were thereafter very friendly to my father 
and Browne Sahib, who showed them many karamat 
(miracles), and told them their thoughts when he 
breathed on them, and the odour of musk resulted 
from his prayers. 

"Many other persons who are still alive, though many 
others are dead — Heera, Zahib, Mullah Mahommed 
Raza, Mullah Khan Suleymankheyl, Syud Ahmad 
of Mukkur, etc. — looked upon the Sahib as a peer 
murshid (spiritual teacher). Mahommed Aslum Tokhi, 
whom the Ameer Sher Ali had banished, and who 
came afterwards to Browne Sahib at Khelat-i-Ghilzie 
with many of his tribe from the Suleymankheyl 
country, as also Sado Khan, the old chief of the 
Khotuks, who was a world-seeing (jehan dida) man, 
and was also at Khelat when the Sahib came there 
afterwards, used to consult together. Much arrange- 
ment was made with them, and with other chiefs, 
and with Adam Khan, chief of the Tarukkis at 
Mukkur, for letting them know how to help Browne 
Sahib at time of need when there should be fighting, 
and when he should come back ; and Sado Khan 
counted the Mullah Sahib to be a saint (peer), and 
so did many others. In those days there was enmity 
with the Ameer Sher Ali on the part of the Mukkur 
people, even as there is now with Ameer Abdul 

" After two years, owing to what the woman Zulika 
had said to her husband Agha about Browne Sahib 
playing with the dog, which is unbecoming, before 
praying, some of the mullahs (priests), having heard 
of this through the talking of women, made an excuse 
for enmity and quarrelled with the Sahib, and told 
some of the Ameer's officials. This was not through 
enmity of the woman Zulika or of Agha, but 
because of the talking of women about dogs becoming 
known, and also because of almsgiving {zakat) which 

344 AFGHANISTAN: 1888-96 

did not please the mullahs, as Browne Sahib got 
much for prayers, but, being a fakeer, gave it all away, 
and did many incantations for sickness, and rites, for 
no reward. When the Ameer's hakim (governor) of 
Ghuznee began to make inquiries, my father told 
Browne Sahib that there would be safety in not 
going to Bokhara through Cabul, but by way of the 
haj (pilgrimage) to Mecca, through the road of 
Candahar and Quetta. He used also to breathe the 
nufs and put his hands on sick persons for nothing, 
and work talismans and charms, both to drink and to 
carry on the arm {bazuband), and to tie on turbans. 
So the Sahib left my father's house by night and went 
to Quetta. When he left he wore a turban like what 
the Khost and Bunnoo mullahs wear, which a mullah 
from Khost had given him." (N.B.— These men wear 
peculiar reddish chocolate turbans.) " He used in 
these days, and when he left us, to wear a white, 
rough, sleeveless waistcoat with ribs " (meaning 
evidently a sort of Bedford cord texture), " and Caubuli 
shoes worn down at the heels and twisted. So my 
father gave him three rupees for shoes, and also the 
Kalam Ulla (Koran) from the mosque in a stitched 
and boiled " (probably meaning the process of softening 
leather by boiling for stamping and embossing) " leather 
case, for the hanging of the Koran round the neck. 

"Afterwards my father got two Persian letters from 
the Sahib at Quetta, asking him to let him know in 
time of need. My father also heard by letters from 
Adam Khan Tarukki and other Ghilzies who went to 
Quetta, that the Sahib was at Quetta, and that he 
said the time was coming when they would need to 
help him. My father kept all these letters inside the 
stitched cover of a Koran during his lifetime. About 
six years ago (1886), however, and after his death, the 
Governor of Ghuznee, Khoja Mahommed Khan, 
attacked the men of Nawa and Mukkur, who were 
rebels. Our house was plundered, and the Koran 
fell into the Governor's hands along with the letters, 
which he sent to the Ameer (Abdul Rahman), who 
thereupon for a time confiscated my mother's pro- 
perty, but has since returned it to her, so that she is 
now well-to-do, and is not poor, and has some land. 

" When Browne Sahib came back to Khelat-i-Ghilzie 
with an army after a year, he was dressed like a 



Sahib, and he had many dealings with the Ghilzyes. 
My father and I used to hear much of his (probable) 
coming to Mukkur ; but because of the Sahib's going 
back to Candahar, my father, being an old man 
and being weak, was not able to travel so far, 
although many persons told him that, owing to 
hospitality, the Sahib would have received him as he 
did the others, with friendship, and because he had 
been my father's guest. Then for some years after 
the war, many men who had known Browne Sahib at 
our house at Mukkur informed us of it, that he was 
making a railway ; and that he used often to speak to 
them, although he was no more a mullah (priest), but 
was still acquainted with the Mussulman religion, 
and cut his moustache for fear of defilement, as 
ordered to Mussulmen. 

" When, later on, my mother heard from travellers 
that Browne Sahib was becoming Lord of 
Beloochistan, she sent me and my two brothers for 
friendship — when we met you at Bostan, and did 
not recognise you, as your beard was not ; but we 
know you now, as your shukkul-o-jubba (appearance 
and language) are not changed since you were in 
our father's home. Our mother Gula is much 
pleased, and has sent many respects, and (inquiries) 
if you can accept any articles of that country as a 
present. The woman Zulika is still alive, although 
her husband Agha is dead, and she also is sending 

Note by Sir James Browne 

"The above represents in substance the account 
given by the sons of the reputed host at Mukkur. 
Most of the Sardars of Beloochistan and the present 
Khan were more or less acquainted with this story 
long before I heard it in detail. I was surprised, 
when at Jacobabad in January 1893, to hear sub- 
stantially the same thing about myself from Sardar 
Harshim Khan, the cousin of the Ameer Abdul 
Rahman and a guest of Mr. James the Commissioner 
in Sindh. Apparently he fully believed it. 

" As regards the nufs, or holy breathing, the laying 
on of hands, and the saintly odours, etc., with which 
I am so satisfactorily credited, much inquiry has 



convinced me that hypnotism, or mesmerism cum 
trickery, is largely practised amongst the Afghans, 
and is a great source of power amongst the priest- 
hood. The people, being entirely ignorant and very 
superstitious, lend themselves very readily to 
suggestion, and have unbounded powers of faith. 
In connection with this a certain very cynical and 
sceptical Persian mirza (scribe), who was at one 
time employed by the Indian Foreign Office to obtain 
information about the famous Akhoond of Swat, 
Abdul Ghaffur, and lived for a considerable time 
at his shrine, tells me a curious story. He says 
the Akhoond was a past-master in hypnotism and 
mesmerism, which were the backbone of his power, 
and that there were no limits to the delusions with 
which he would impress the ignorant tribesmen 
who visited him. The mirza informs me that the 
Akhoond used to rub the wooden walls of his house 
in places with camphor, musk, and suchlike spices, 
before an interview with a religious inquirer ; and 
then by putting a cashmeeree brazier of hot coals 
within a hidden recess under the wall, he used to 
claim the odour gradually worked out of the wall 
by the heat as a manifestation of the Ruh-id-Khuddas 
(the Holy Ghost) — the odour of sanctity due to his 
very potent prayer ! The way for hypnotism, 
suggestion, etc., being thus generally paved, faith 
did the rest. Doppelganger may very well have 
indulged in similar pastimes. But, whoever he may 
have been, and whatever his motives, he certainly 
never bargained for a total stranger and much less 
for an unbelieving Englishman being so like unto 
himself, physically and mentally, as to unwittingly 
and without an effort reap the fruit of his pious 



"^HE last chapter brought this narrative to the end 

of Browne's active career. Its actual close was 

now at hand, and came very suddenly — as does 
sometimes occur, though very occasionally, with men 
of his robust health and constitution and magnificent 
frame. His work, both mental and physical, had always 
been exceptionally hard and ceaseless, and sometimes 
full of anxieties. Still it had not appeared to be telling 
on him. His friends, and the friends of India, had 
been looking forward to his further advancement to 
the highest posts ; but he never really cared for the 
sort of bureaucratic employment that would probably 
be involved in this, and, as already described, he was 
preparing his plans and arrangements to retire from 
active official service in India, as the usual length of 
tenure of employment there was now approaching 
completion, and he had hopes of getting in England 
work which would have suited his tastes. But this 
was not to be. In June, 1896, an insidious and fatal 
complaint developed very suddenly — and his eldest son 
was summoned to Quetta. During four days he grew 
rapidly worse, till he succumbed on the early morning 
of June 13th. He was buried in the evening, with 
as a matter of course, the customary ceremonials 
which were thus described in the local Press ; 



"The arrangements for the State funeral to which 
the late officer was entitled were at once put in 
hand by Captain W. M. Cubitt, First Assistant to 
the Agent to the Governor-General ; and under the 
orders of the General Officer commanding the Quetta 
district, the station order was issued with a black 

" In accordance with these orders the 2nd Battalion 
Border Regiment paraded at the Residency at 6.30 
p.m., under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Brind, 
and formed the firing party. The following troops 
forming the escort also paraded at the Residency — viz. 
three squadrons of the 5th Bombay Cavalry (mounted) ; 
1 6th Bombay Native Infantry. The remainder of 
the troops in garrison lined the road leading to the 
cemetery under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel 

"At 6.30 p.m. the coffin containing the mortal 
remains of the deceased officer was removed from 
the Residency and placed on the gun-carriage. On 
it was placed a cushion containing the orders and 
medals worn by the late Sir James Browne, and the 
whole was draped with the ' Viceroy's flag.' A very 
large number of handsome wreaths were laid upon 
the coffin and placed on the gun-carriage. 

"The mournful procession, which was followed by 
a large number of military and civil officers, and 
by the members of the unofficial community, slowly 
wended its way to the cemetery, the bands of the 
Border and Lancashire Regiments playing funeral 
marches alternately. The roadsides were crowded 
by the natives, who viewed the solemn scene with 
much sad interest. While the procession was en 
route, a salute of thirteen minute guns was fired 
from the fort, where also the flag was flying at 
half mast. On arrival at the cemetery, the usual 
burial service was read by the Rev. F. E. D. Cobbold, 
M.A., chaplain, the hymn, 'Jesus lives; no longer 
now' (A. and M.) being sung at the close. 

" As the body was committed to earth, No. 2 Mountain 
Battery, which was drawn up in action outside the 
cemetery, fired a final salute of thirteen guns. The 
troops then marched to quarters and the large 
concourse of people dispersed to their homes. The 
late Sir James Browne died at the comparatively 


early age of fifty-six, and the immediate cause of death 
was certified to be sudden haemorrhage from the 

In addition to the formal or official particulars 
of this ceremonial, some other features may be noted. 
The regard in which Browne was held by the natives 
was vividly shown by the spontaneous attendance of 
the whole population of Quetta and its neighbourhood, 
who thronged the roads to pay the last respects to the 
man whom they had so long known and honoured, 
and many of them loved — among them being many 
an old outlaw, now transformed into a staunch sup- 
porter of Government and of law and order. 

The intelligence of his really sudden death was 
received with the greatest sorrow in varied sections 
of the community ; and letters came from all quarters 
— from old friends of course, but also from every 
class of native, in bodies as well as individually. 
There was a collective telegram from " all the chiefs " 
of Beloochistan, and a special one from the Khan. 
The Press of India, native as well as English, and 
the Press of England, eulogised him heartily. The 
several associations to which he belonged, such as 
the Institute of Civil Engineers, honoured him in 
their proceedings. A letter had reached Browne 
from Lord Elgin, who had received the report 
of his illness, just before his death. When the 
later news arrived, the Viceroy sent a telegram 
couched in the following terms : 

" I have heard with deep regret the news of Sir 
James Browne's death. Please convey to his son my 
personal sympathy with himself and his family, and 
my sense of the loss the Government of India has 
sustained on the death of an officer who has rendered 
it such long and distinguished service." 


The Gazette of India issued this notification : 

" The Governor-General in Council has heard with 
great regret of the death at Quetta on the 13th 
inst. of Major-General Sir James Browne, K.C.S.I., 
C.B., Royal Engineer, Governor-General's Agent in 
Beloochistan. Sir James Browne's active service in 
India extended over a period of more than thirty-six 
years, in the course of which he took part in the 
Mahsood-Wuzeeree expedition i860, the Umbeyla 
1863-64, the Afghan war 1878-79, the Egyptian ex- 
pedition 1882. He discharged for two years with 
conspicuous energy and ability the duties of Engineer- 
in-chief of the Sind-Pesheen Railway, and he held, 
with distinction, from 1889 to 1892, the appointment of 
Quartermaster-General in India. Sir James Browne 
was specially selected in 1892 for the high post which 
he filled at his decease ; and his death — so near the 
conclusion of his long and very distinguished career 
— is much deplored by the Government of India." 

It may be interesting to note that the year (1896) 
of Browne's death was fatal to many of his comrades 
and friends. Among those who had served in 
the same campaigns were : Keyes, who had taken 
such an active part in both of Browne's earlier cam- 
paigns, the Mahsood Wuzeeree and the Umbeyla 
expeditions ; and Sir Harry Lumsden, who had been 
one of the commanders in the former. Sir Charles 
Aitchison, who had served in the Punjab during 
many years of Browne's employment there, and other 
brother officers in the Punjab and Simla, died in the 
same year ; and also that Sir O. Bright, who had been 
commanding troops in the passes of Northern Afghani- 
stan when Browne was capturing Khelat-i-Ghilzie, 
besides meeting him on the Punjab frontier. 

Browne had been instrumental in raising a memorial 
window to Sandeman in the Quetta church, in the 
erection of which both Sandeman and himself had 
worked zealously for many years ; and now Browne's 


friends placed a most beautiful mosaic reredos in 
his memory, below that window. The church, it 
may be remarked, is a very handsome structure, 
characterised by some as splendid. He had also 
taken the lead in furthering a permanent popular 
memorial, chiefly supported by the Beloochee com- 
munity, in honour of Sandeman, in the shape of a 
jirgah, or people's hall, to be used for durbars and 
public meetings. The cost was almost entirely met 
by the chiefs and natives in or round Quetta. 
He used to watch the progress of this work 
almost daily, and it is said that his death was trace- 
able, in a measure, to a fall which he met with while 
climbing about to examine the work. 

Browne's friends in England placed a tablet to his 
memory in Rochester Cathedral. The following is a 
copy of the inscription transcribed for the family by 
the late Dean Hole : 

In memory of 

(late Bengal Engineers) 

who died at Quetta, 13th of June, 1896, when 
Agent to the Governor-General in Beloochistan. 
Aged 56. 

Distinguished alike as a brave Soldier, 
a scientific and able Engineer, and an 
accomplished Linguist, he was above 
all one who ruled over men in the fear 
of God and won the warm affection of 
all who served under him whether European 
or Asiatic. 

" Looking unto the mercy of our Lord Jesus 
Christ unto Eternal Life." — Jude 21. 

A memorial tablet has also been erected in the 
chapel of Cheltenham College. 


As we have now described Browne's career in the 
sequence of its details, it may be useful to analyse it. 

The fact of his education having been entirely 
Continental until his professional course began de- 
barred him from much of what is customary to boys 
brought up in the British Isles. He was no sports- 
man ; for though he had every inclination for it, he 
was throughout his career so hard worked that the 
usual opportunities for such amusements and recrea- 
tion did not come in his way. His leaves and 
furloughs even were not used for rest or amusement, 
but almost entirely for study or travel for increasing 
his professional efficiency — engineering or linguistic. 

During the whole of his career, until Lord Roberts 
became Commander-in-chief, the Engineers were 
nowhere as to the army staff — though the Mutiny 
campaign had been specially one of siege operation — 
and the prizes of the service had been reserved for 
the cavalry and staff corps. So that Browne, how- 
ever widely known as an officer of exceptional 
practical capacity, was carefully kept to the beaten 
track, until Lord Lytton noticed his value, though 
he did not raise him to the prominence of those other 
elites who mostly proved failures. 

As a soldier, he was forward, to a marked degree, 
in all his campaigns, and it has always been recognised 
that without his remarkable energy and physique, 
his dogged resolution, and his ability in surmounting 
all obstacles, the Hurnai Railway could not have been 
carried to completion within the time. 

It has been generally charged against Browne that 
he did not do himself justice. He never sought 
anything : went wherever he was wanted, and let the 
usual prizes for men of capacity slip by him. The 
only occasion on which he publicly asserted his own 


views in opposition to weighty authority was when 
he questioned Lord Lawrence's policy in regard to 
Candahar, and organised the public meeting in London 
to oppose it. 

Most popular and influential with all classes and 
ranks of natives, he belonged to the old school that 
leant on personal influence and guidance rather than 
on rules and regulations — the school that saved India 
in 1857, and is mayhap saving it now. His eminent 
qualifications would have made him invaluable during 
and before the recent troubles in Africa. But it is 
only of very late years that Engineers, with the 
exception of Lord Napier, have overcome the older 
opposition, and men like Gordon, Kitchener, and 
Nicholson have had their value recognised. 

Further, it may be noted that the period of Browne's 
service was emphatically that of the steady intro- 
duction of the real development of India, chequered 
only by the slip back following on Lord Ripon's 
well-meant measures when their harvest time had 
not yet come. Browne had seen the nakedness of 
the land immediately after the Mutiny ; the quiver- 
ing condition that followed till Lord Mayo took 
the reins and pressed forward the material develop- 
ment of the country; then the rapid advance in all 
matters except military organisation, followed by the 
feverish episodes of the Afghan war, and its sequel ; 
after which his own position rose to greater heights, 
and would have been still more important and in- 
fluential but for the official opposition he met with. 

Such briefly were Browne's experiences of the 
changes that occurred in India during his career ; 
and though from his own personality he performed 
such splendid work and rendered such exceptionally 
valuable service to the State, there can be no doubt 



that he was equally well fitted for still more im- 
portant positions, from which he was practically 
barred by the style and action of officialdom till then 
prevalent at Simla. 

The various episodes of Browne's career, and his 
action throughout as described in the preceding pages, 
give the best evidence there could be to his personal 
qualities. Still it may be well to touch on them 
before closing. 

It cannot be stated too clearly and emphatically 
that his leading characteristic, which, though not 
obtruded, consistently coloured all his actions and 
conduct, was a profound, almost childlike, trust in 
divine protection and guidance. More need not be 
said — the point is too sacred. 

He was absolutely fearless, but never reckless ; 
fully alive to dangers, but resolute to face them, and 
wise to meet them with the best chances of success. 
A thorough man, he was, as such, gentle and kindly 
to all that were weak. This was at the bottom of his 
success with natives ; for while he treated them as 
men, he recognised the disadvantages under which 
they suffered from the barbarism of ages, and so 
behaved to them with a subtle touch of consideration, 
to which they were not, as a body, accustomed. 

Full of bonhomie and geniality, passing in suitable 
circumstances into joviality, he was the warmest of 
friends and the most delightful of companions, and 
when so minded would be the life of any social 
gathering. He had made notes of many hundreds of 
stories of native humour, but these unluckily have 
disappeared. He had great powers of chaff, not only 
with his comrades, but with natives also — very effective 
because never sarcastic or ill-natured. During the 
days of profound illness all over the Hurnai route, he 



aided greatly towards the recovery of the prostrate 
not only by actual assistance, but also by the cheeriness 
of his presence and his hearty speech and quaint 

He was essentially a free lance ; a hater of needless 
trammels ; too wise not to know that control and 
discipline are essential, but a rebel against unwarranted 
authority. No more trustworthy subordinate was 
ever met by sensible commanders-in-chief. 

The gentleness which has been referred to extended 
to animals ; and they reciprocated this liking. His 
ponies and dogs followed him about. It has been 
described how, in a difficult landing in the Red Sea, 
he led his mare along a narrow gangway ahead of the 
whole string of horses in the transports. 

His chief social delight lay in music, as has been 
mentioned. He had not received any musical 
education, and his free-lance character affected him 
now and then, when he had to join in concerted 
music. In addition to his natural voice, which 
was a deep bass, and in which he could sing songs 
of the Pathans and roll out their calls, he could sing 
falsetto, and so imitate the shrill tones of Nautch 
girls and others, as on an occasion already mentioned. 

With all this gaiety of heart, its depth was what 
attracted his most earnest friends, combined as this was 
with such keen intellect and sound judgment. The 
charm lay not only in the "jolly face," the "youthful 
spirit," but in the " leader of men," the " ruler of 
men," a man whom " all respect — all believe — all must 
love." Such were the words in which tributes to his 
memory were paid not from comrades only but from 
the most highly placed. Finally, how he was appre- 
ciated by his children may be understood from the 
following passage : 


" A man to be trusted, loved, and obeyed : courteous 
and genial, and yet with a certain imperiousness of 
manner which allowed of no liberties. I was almost 
grown up before it struck me that father was a clever 
man — but I cannot remember a time when I did not 
feel and know that father was a good man. Full of 
life and brightness and cordiality, and yet underlying 
all, a gentleness, goodness, and sympathetic kind- 
heartedness that few could resist ; and this came — I 
am sure that it came — from his religion. 

" This religion, to put it quite simply, was ' Faith in 
God.' This was the lode-star of his life ; it helped him 
in and through everything. I do not know if he 
always had this firm belief and trust in God, or if 
he learnt it step by step through his own experience 
of life — but I do know that his faith never left him. 
He could not do without it ; it was a second nature 
to him, and so true was its nature that no one could 
live with him and not feel its influence. 

M There was no parade of religion, only a daily con- 
secration to God, a simple belief that ' what will come, 
and what shall come, must come well.' 

" On the day the Hurnai line was finished, this one 
and only one entry is found in his diary for that date, 
1 Thank God.' Every work he undertook began with 
a prayer for help and strength and ended with a prayer 
of thanksgiving. He knew what he believed and had 
a most perfect faith in the God who orders all. Father 
often used to tell us that one of the ' greater ' blessings 
was the free will which is given to each one of us, if 
we chose to exercise it. He used to liken a man's faith 
to the rope that passes through the catacombs in 
Rome. You may go through miles of darkness, but 
the rope is at the side, and it will lead you back 
to the light. 'As long,' he used to say, 'as you 
keep in touch with God, you cannot go far wrong.' 
You may make false steps, but you will come back 

" Father's whole life carried out this belief, and his 
life of real goodness stands out apart from all other 
influences of our childhood. Worried and bothered 
he often was, and had to be — but it never came into 
his home life. I mean he never seemed put out or 
angry with us personally. I think I can honestly say 
I never saw father angry. It was not that he had 



not got a temper, but that he had it so marvellously 
under control that we never saw it. 

" Dear, loving, warm-hearted father, who always 
had time if love and sympathy were needed, but 
who was always too busy to scold or find fault — 
who seemed to know by instinct the sorrows that 
touched his children, but who never forgot the 
pleasures that made them glad. He watched and 
guided each one as they grew out of childhood, 
showing them with such patience how to overcome 
their 'besetting' sin — and trying with all the force 
of his love and example to show them the only way 
that leads to true happiness. And through everything 
the same keynote seemed to be, 1 Have faith in God.' 

" This on the one side — and on the other laughter, 
cheerfulness, with an endless fund of stories and 

" Although father read a great deal in his spare 
moments (anything and everything, in fact, that he 
came across), I do not think he often quoted from 
books. His thoughts and ideas were all his own, full 
of originality, and drawn from his own experience 
and worked out in his own quaint way. 

" He seemed to remember so clearly the lessons 
that each work had taught him. I suppose it was 
because whatever he undertook, work or play, he 
did it with all his ' might.' It was an all-absorbing 
work for the time being, and he used to say to himself 
that anything he had really worked out in this way he 
could not forget even if he would. 

" He never forgot the music he had heard when a 
boy — chiefly operas and symphonies. He was very 
fond of music, though as a rule I do not think he 
cared much for modern ballads and drawing- 
room music. He was happiest when listening to 
Mendelssohn's 'Duetto' or 'Venetian Boat Song' 
played as he had heard it played years before, or 
to Mr. Mann's band playing one of Beethoven's 
symphonies. In these he would lose himself and 
be quite content. He loved singing and never seemed 
to forget either words or tune to any song he really 
cared for. At one time he wanted to study music 
more seriously, but his father would not hear of it, 
and afterwards he was really glad of this. 

" I think he would have liked to take up medicine 


as a profession, and he often used to say that he 
believed he had the spirit and love for doctoring 
in him that alone can make a good doctor. Certainly 
in any case of illness no one could be more patient, 
gentle, and untiring; and he seemed to understand 
what might be wanted in a most wonderful way. 

" I must leave it to others to speak of that side of 
his nature which appealed to them. I mean of his 
wonderful perseverance in carrying out his work ; 
of his power of concentrating all his attention on 
the work he had in hand ; of his strong will and 
determination when he thought a thing was right." 

Such were some of the points of his character 
that gained for him the trust and confidence of all, 
superiors, comrades, and family, and that helped 
to bring him to the front. 


Abazai, 48 
Abbott, 66, 67 

Abdul Ghaffur, Akhoond of Swat, 

45. 47, 346" 

Abdul Razak, 148 

Abdulla Jan, 108 ; his death, 178 

Abdurrahman, Ameer of Afghan- 
istan, 207 ; his claim to the 
throne of Cabul, 162 

Abistade, Lake, 149, 170 

Abyssinia, war in, 103 

Achukzyes, 188, 200 

Adam Khan, 174, 343 

Addiscombe, 11 

Afghanistan, war in, 7, 8 ; bound- 
aries, 110, in; advances of 
Russia, 160; proposals for an 
alliance, 161 ; war with England, 
183; advance of the three 
forces, 184 

Afreedees, the, 42, 52, 309 

Africa, export of slaves, 128 

Africa, South, war in, 207 

Agha, 343 

Aitchison, Sir Charles, his death, 

Akcha, hi 

Akhara^ or wrestling-ground, 51 
Alexander the Great, 138 
Alexandria, bombardment of, 218 
Ali Musjid, 179, 183; captured by 

the British, 184 
Aligurh, 281 

Alikhanoff, 236 
Alizyes, 195 
Allai Valley, 284 
Alum Bagh, 21 

America, engineering works of, 1 17 
Andkui, 111 

Anson, General, Commander-in- 
chief, 18 

Arabi Pasha, rebellion of, 214, 215, 

Archer, Captain, 325 

Armenhoff, General, 285 

Attock, 33, 39, 41, 49 

Ayub Khan, his victory at Mai- 
wand, 206 ; invasion of Canda- 
har, 207 

Badakshan, no, 111 

Badli Ke Serai, battle of, 18 

Bairam Ali, 285 
! Bajour, 309 

Bajourees, 77 

Balakot, 45 

Balkh, in 
I Balozai, 198 

Bandar Abbas, 286 

Bara River, construction of a 
bridge over the, 54, 57 

Baree Doab, 33 note 

Barnes, H. S., 254, 294, 298, 305, 

Battye, Quentin, 33 
Beas, 33 note 




Behar, famine in, 124 
Bellew, Dr., 34 

Beloochees, 59, 139; character- 
istics, 142, 300 ; raids, 144 

Beloochistan, settlement, 113; 
condition, 127 ; history, 137 ; 
situation, 142 ; appointment of 
a Governor-General's Agent, 
144; suppression of anarchy, 
144; lawlessness, 146; adminis- 
tration of, 294, 297, 305-310; 
durbar, 294; relations with 
Scinde, 329-331 ; treatment of 
women, 331 

Benha, Egyptian army concen- 
trated at, 219 

Berlin conference, 175, 177 

Bernard, Sir Charles, 11 

Bhoogtees, 59, 139, 333 

Biddulph, General, 181 ; at Quetta, 
186 ; receives orders to advance, 
187; his survey of the route 
from Candahar to Girishk, 195 ; 
his report, 195 ; his exploration 
of Thul Chotiali, 197 

Bisset, 187 

Black Mountain expedition, 283 
Blair, Henry, 52, 62, 157 
Bokhara, III, 285 
Bolan Pass, 88, 90, 91, 136, 138, 

164 ; construction of the railway, 

232, 241, 248 
Bombay, system of irrigation, 96 
Bonair, 44, 73, 75 
Bonairs, 309 
Bonairwals, 73, 75 
Boner, 44, 73, 75 
Bonn, 6 
Bori, 198 
Bostan, 241, 257 
Bozdors, 337 
Brackenbury, Sir H., 289 
Bradford, Major, 125 
Brahui Mountains, 138 ; tribes, 138 
Bridges, construction of, 100, 118 
Bright, Sir O., his death, 350 
Brind, Lieut. -Colonel, 348 

Browne, Sir James, his charac- 
teristics, 2, 54, 92, 354 ; title of 
"Buster," 3, n ; his father, 3 ; 
birth, 6 ; education, 7, 9 ; love 
of music, 7, 35$, 357 ; at Chelten- 
ham College, 9 ; Addiscombe, 
1 1 ; death of his brother Robert, 
23 ; appointed to the Bengal 
Engineers, 23; at Chatham, 24; 
religious convictions, 24, 94, 209, 
354. 35° ! at Calcutta, 31 ; his ex- 
pedition against the Wuzeerees, 
32-39 ; aptitude for languages, 
40, 61, 86, 202; appointed to 
the Public Works Department 
of the Punjab, 40 ; at Attock, 
49; friendships, 49, 51; his 
construction of the Indus Tunnel 
Drift, 50 ; influence over the 
tribesmen, 54, 60, 62, 86, 93, 
154, 169, 173, 174, I9 2 > 2 3 2 , 301- 
304 ; adventure with the pile- 
engine, 55-57 ; in charge of the 
Kohat division, 59 ; accident at 
Kooshalgurh, 60 ; field engineer 
in the Umbeyla campaign, 71- 
82; conflicts with the Bonair- 
wals, 75 ; wounded, 82 ; applies 
for leave, 84, 94, 103, 199 ; 
breadth and independence of 
thought, 92 ; appearance of his 
double, 93, 170 ; marriage, 94 ; 
at Roorkee, 94 ; Lahore, 97 ; 
Kangra, 97 ; construction of the 
road, 98, 99; his bridges, 100, 
118; gains the Telford Pre- 
mium, 101 ; on furlough, 115 ; 
his study of engineering works 
in Holland and Belgium, 115; 
in America, 117; his return to 
India, 117, 226; at Dalhousie, 
117; suspension bridge across 
the Jumna, 118; his work at 
Dalhousie, 118 ; designs for the 
Sukkur Bridge, 120-122, 129; 
appointed to survey the country 
between Sukkur and Sibi, 136, 



151 ; history of his double 
Ishmael Ali, 148 ; report of his 
survey, 156 ; at Simla, 157, 229; 
on Lord Lytton's staff, 157, 162* 
182; his task of enlisting the 
good-will of the Kakur Pathans, 
162-166 ; relations with Colonel 
Sandeman, 165; his formation 
of a coolie corps, 168 ; taken 
for a Mullah, 172-175 ; im- 
munity from Ghazee attacks, 
172; appointed Intelligence 
Officer to General Biddulph, 
185 ; fortifies the Miri at Quetta, 
187; accompanies Sir Donald 
Stewart, 190; takes possession 
of Khelat-i-Ghilzie, 190 ; accom- 
panies General Biddulph on the 
Thul Chotiali, 198 ; C.S.I., 200 ; 
studies the Russian language, 
202 ; his life in Paris, 203 ; 
arrested, 203 ; in London, 206 ; 
his memorandum on withdrawal 
from Candahar, 208 ; his lecture 
on the subject, 209 ; brochure 
on scepticism, 210 ; death of his 
brother-in-law, 210 ; exploration 
of Nagpore, 214; preparation of 
the designs by the Defence 
Committee, 215 ; appointed 
Commanding Engineer in the 
Egyptian campaign, 216, 221 ; 
at Suez, 222 ; his pier and gang- 
way, 222 ; at Ismailia, 223 ; at 
the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, 223 ; 
at Zagazig, 225 ; attack of 
illness, 226, 347; C.B , 229; 
selected for the construction of 
the Hurnai railway, 230 ; his 
preparations, 236 ; instructions, 
236, 251 ; transferred from the 
Military Department, 238 : his 
position, 238-241, 249-251 ; 
operations, 241 ; difficulties of 
the construction, 243-247, 252- 
255; estimates, 251, 258-260; 
sketches of the work, 255-258 ; 

K.C.S.I., 259, 264 ; his inter- 
view with Lord Dufferin, 264 ; 
in England, 264; appointed 
Quartermaster-General of the 
army in India, 265, 271 ; his 
views on the defence of the 
Quetta frontier, 272 ; the 
Nushki line, 273-275 ; his per- 
sonal inspections and investiga- 
tions, 279 ; his State papers, 
279; scheme for the mobilisa- 
tion of troops for campaign 
work, 281 ; appointed Governor- 
General's Agent in Beloochistan, 
281, 296 ; on the Russian and 
Persian question, 284 ; his 
frontier policy, 289-292 ; deposes 
the Khan of Khelat, 299 ; his 
administration of Khelat, 300- 
304 ; of British Beloochistan, 
305-310; at the installation of 
Mir Mahmud, 311 ; his speech, 
311-320; at the Quetta durbar, 
321 ; his relations with South 
Afghanistan, 327 ; system of 
local reprisals, 328 ; character, 
334 ; on the defects in the 
system of the Punjab adminis- 
tration, 337, 339 ; statement of 
his identification with the 
Mullah of Mukkur, 342-345 ; 
his note on the account, 345 ; 
death, 347 ; funeral, 348 ; me- 
morial tablets, 350, 351 ; tribute 
to his memory, 356-358 

Browne, John, 6, 9 ; stationed at 
Dinajpore, 22 

Browne, Dr. Robert, 3 ; his career, 
4 ; in Calcutta, 5 ; marriage, 5 ; 
in France, 5 ; Germany, 6 ; 
education of his sons, 6 ; death, 

Browne, Robert, 6 ; at Addis- 
combe, 11 ; his commission in 
the Bengal Native Infantry, II, 
22 ; adventures, 22 ; death, 23 

Browne, .Sir Samuel, 181 ; in 


command of the force for the 
invasion of Peshawur, 181, 184 ; 
captures Ali Musjid, 184 ; occu- 
pies the Khyber, 184 

Browne, Miss, 321 

Brunnovv, Baron, 112 

Buchanan, Sir A., 130 

Budh Singh, 44 

Bukkur, island of, 120 

Buneyr Bridge, 100 

Bungul, chief of the Zhob Valley, 

Bunnoo, 32, 39 
Burma, 282 ; annexation of, 8 
Burma, king of, operations against, 

Burn-Murdoch, Captain, in the 

Egyptian campaign, 221 
Burrera Tonga Pass, 37 
Butler, Mrs. Josephine, 129 
Bux, Mr., 325 

Cairo, surrender of, 220, 225 
Cameron, Captain Ewen, his death 

from cholera, 253 
Campbell, Sir Colin, 21 
Candahar, 169, 183 ; British troops 

in, 189; Sir Donald Stewart's 

memorandum on the retention 

of, 195-197 ; views on, 209 
Canning, Lord, Viceroy and 

Governor-General of India, 1 ; 

his administration, 16; General 

Service Act, 19 
Carter-Campbell, 23, 24 
Caspian Sea, 87, 126 
Caucasus, 285 

Cavagnari, Sir Louis, 160 ; his 
murder, 199, 205 ; resident at 
Cabul, 201 

Cawnpore, fall of, 20 

Chamberlain, Sir Neville, 33, 66, 
68 ; in command of the Um- 
beyla campaign, 72 ; wounded, 
80 ; in charge of the British 
mission to Shere Ali, 180; 
stopped at the Khyber, 185 

Chapman, General, 271 
Charjui, 87, 285 
I Chatham, 23, 24 
Cheltenham College, 9 ; memorial 
tablet to Sir James Browne, 351 
Chenab, 33 note, 198 
Chesney, Sir George, 271 
Chicago, 117 

China, outbreak of war, 2 
Chins, the, 282 

Chitral expedition, 281 ; relief of, 
i 289 ; outbreak of anarchy, 309 
Cholera, outbreaks of, 246, 249, 

Chuggurzyes, 77 

Chumla Plain, 73 

Chuppur Bridge, opened, 262 

Chuppur Rift, 245, 256 

Cincinnati, 117 

Clarendon, Lord, 112 

Clark, Robert, 51 

Clarke, Sir Andrew, 167 

Cobbold, Rev. F. E. D., 348 

Colley, Colonel, military secretary 
to Lord Lytton, 135 ; dispatched 
to Beloochistan, 152; trans- 
ferred to the India Office, 160 ; 
in South Africa, 200 ; his opera- 
tions against the Boers, 207 ; 
defeat and death, 207 

Collingwood, Lieut. -Colonel, 348 

Connaught, Duchess of, opens the 
Louise Margaret or Chuppur 
Bridge, 257, 263 

Connaught, Duke of, at the open- 
ing of the Chuppur Bridge, 262 

Constantinople, conference at, 158 

Coolie Corps, formation of a, 168 

Cooper's Hill College, institution 
of, 28 

Cotton, Sidney, 66, 68 
Crimean war, 8, 10 
Cubitt, Captain W. M., 348 
I Curzon, Mr., 294 
Cutchee, 138, 151, 198; Plain, 
156, 232 

! Cyprus acquired by England, 214 



Dadur, 137, 164, 186 

Dalhousie, 102, 117 

Dalhousie, Lord, his administra- 
tion of India, 12; his minute, 
13; annexation of Oude, 15; 
measures of reform, 15; his 
departure for England, 16 

Damietta, 219 

Daron Bridge, 100 

Deela, 149 

Dehra Bridge, 100 

Delhi, outbreak of the mutiny, 
19; durbar at, 153; army ma- 
noeuvres at, 270 

Dera Ghazee Khan, 156, 164 

Dera Ishmael Khan, 32 ; meeting 
at, 289 

Derajat, 197, 198, 287 

Dharmsala, 98 

Dinajpore, 22 

Disraeli, Mr., Prime Minister, 127 
Doab, 33 
Dondoukoff, 267 

Dost Mahomed, Ameer of Afghan- 
istan, treaty with, 20 ; his death, 

Dowlazyes, 77 

Dufferin, Lord, Viceroy of India, 
263 ; his interview with Sir 
James Browne, 264 

Dumbkees, 333 

Durrum, 72 

Edwardes, . ir Herbert, 20, 68 ; 

Life of, 66 ; on the Russian 

soldiers, 70 
Egypt, administration of, 227 ; 

campaign, 215; sketch of the, 

Elgin, Countess of, 321 
Elgin, Lord, Governor-General of 

India, his death, 62, 71 ; tour 

towards Kooloo, 71 
Elgin, Lord, Viceroy of India, 

305 ; his policy, 307 ; holds a 

durbar at Quetta, 320 ; his 

speech, 320-326 

Emam Mehndee, 14 
Eusufzais, the, 42, 52 

Falkirk, 4 
Fatteh Khan, 45 
Fellowes, Colonel, 170 
Ferozpoor, 66 
Forster, John, 133 
Franco-German war, 1 1 5 
Frankfort, 6 

Frere, Sir Bartle, 129, 133, 138; 
champion of the " Forward 
Policy," 87 

Gadarzyes, 77 

Gaisford, Major, 312, 325 

Garkhai, 244, 257 

Garvock, General, in command 

of the force at Umbeyla, 80 ; 

operations against the enemy, 


Gee, Mr., killed, 309 
Geneffe, 222 

Geok Tepe, conquered by the 

Russians, 214, 216 
Ghazees, 81 

Ghilzye tribes, 50, 187 ; their 
devotion to Sir James Browne, 

Ghuznee, 34, 149, 287 
Gickki, 295 
Giers, M. de, 267 
Gilgit, 282 ; troops besieged in, 

Gill, Captain, 220; shot, 221 
Girishk, 190, 195 
Girouard, 227 

Gladstone, Mr., his resignation, 

Gomul Pass. 287, 288 
Gordon, Conway, 23 
Gordon, General, 200, 227 
Gortchakoff, Prince, on the settle- 
ment of the Afghan frontier 
question, 111 
Graham, Gerald, 227 



Granville, Lord, 112; character of 
his policy, 266 

Green, Sir Henry, 127, 138; de- 
parture from Beloochistan, 113; 
in command of the frontier of 
Scinde, 141 

Green, Malcolm, 138 

Grey, Captain, 337 

Gula, 342 

Gulistan Karez, 188 
Gundakinduf Defile, 245 
Gundamuck, treaty of, 201 
Gunga Singh, 22 
Guroo Hill, 73, 75, 77 
Gvvadur, 285, 286 
Gwaja Pass, 187, 189 
Gwalior, war with, 8 

Haileybury, 9 
Haramzye, 186 
Harree Singh, 44 
Havre, Le, 5 
Havvkes, Mr. 326 
Hazara, 43, 59, 63, 282 
Helmund, 190, 194 
Herat, 87, ill, 285 
Hindu Khush, 87 
Hodson, Mr. 326 

Hole, Dean, his inscription to Sir 

James Browne, 351 
Home, 23 
Hoti, 45 

Humeerpore, 22 

Hund, Khan of 44 

Hunza Nuggur, 282 

Hurirud River, 267 

Hurnai Railway, construction of 
the, 229 ; engineering difficulties, 
244-247, 252, 255 ; estimates of 
the cost, 251, 258-261 ; sketches 
of the work, 255-258; opened, 

Hurrund, 164 
Hussunzyes, 77 
Hykulzye, 188 

Ilbert Bill, 231 

India, under Lord Dalhousie's rule, 
12; increase of territory, 13; 
causes of disaffection, 13-15; 
annexation of Oude, 1 5 ; admini- 
strative reforms, 15, 25 ; depar- 
ture of Lord Dalhousie, 16 ; 
outbreak of the mutiny, 19; 
Civil Service, 25 ; abolition of 
the purchase system in the army, 
25 ; irrigation works, 27, 95 ; 
engineers, 28 ; condition of the 
British troops, 29 ; native ser- 
vants, 29 ; fanaticism of tribes, 
42 ; construction of railways, 
116; contests in the eastern 
frontiers, 282 ; in the north-west 

Indus, 33 ; Tunnel Drift, construc- 
tion of, 50 
Isazye, 282 

Ishmael Ali, 148 ; his career, 149 ; 
at Deela, 149; character, 150; 
his resemblance to Browne, 
170; at Mukkur, 170; sum- 
moned to Cabul, 171 ; his dis- 
appearance, 171 

Ismailia, Port of, 219 

Ispahan, 285, 286 

Jacob, General John, 89, 113, 

Jacobabad, 88, 137 ; annual horse 

show at, 332 
Jakranees, 333 

James, Major, 66, 68, 80 ; his 
influence on the hill tribes, 85 ; 
death, 86 

Jech, 33 note 

Jellalabad, 181 

Jhansi, 21 

Jhelum, 33 ?iote 

St. John, Sir Oliver, 168, 185, 

Jopp, 24 

Jovvaki tribes, 159 
Jumna, suspension bridge across 
the, 118 



Jumrood, 179 
Jungoo, Mullah, 341 

Kabul, 87 
Kach, 243 
Kachins, the, 282 

Kakur Pathans, 162 ; character- 
istics, 163 ; their relations with 
Browne, 165 

Kanagorum, 35, 38 

Kangra Valley, 97 ; construction 
of the road, 98, 99 

Karki, 285 

Kashmir, 43 

Kassassin, 219, 223 

Kaufmann, Governor-General of 
Turkestan, 103, 108, 126; his 
negotiations with Shere Ali, 

131. 133. 176 
Kej, 295 

Kermanshah, 285, 286 
Keyes, 350 

Khadi Khan of Hund, 45 
Khairabad, 59, 281 
Khalsi, suspension bridge at, 

Khanpore, 78 

Kharikoff, his mission for the 
exploration of Khorasan, 41 

Khelat, 144, 164 ; administration 
of, 299-304 

Khelat, Khan of, 127, 139; his 
position, 144 ; aim, 145 ; treaty 
with England, 146, 152; his 
character, 293 ; defies the 
Government, 299 ; deposed, 

Khelat, Mir Mahmud, installed 
Khan of Khelat, 299, 311; his 
reply to Sir James Browne's 
speech, 319 

Khelat-i-Ghilzie, 34, 149, 169, 
189, 287 ; surrenders, 191 ; with- 
drawal of the British troops, 

Khidderzye tribe, 295 
Khoja Saleh, III, 267 

Khojak pass, 169, 187, 189, 273 ; 

tunnel, 272, 274 
Khorasan, 87, 111, 284 
Khosas, 333 

Khost district, 181 ; occupied by 

the British, 184 
Khusnob, 290 
Khusranees, 59 

Khwaja Amran range, 165, 183, 
187, 257, 272 

Khyber Pass, 90; British mission 
refused admittance to the, 179 

Khyberees, the, 42 

Kilwa, 128 

Kirk, Dr., 129 

Kirman, 286 

Kishm, island of, 286 

Kitchener, Lord, 227 

Kizil Arvat, 126 

Kohat, 59 

Kokcha River, 1 1 1 

Kolpakoffsky, General, his letter 
to Shere Ali, 131 

Komaroff, General, 241, 268 

Kooloo, 71 

Kooshalgurh, 60 

Korsakoff, 267 

Koru, 285 

Krasnovodsk, 126 

Kuchali, tunnel at, 255 

Kunduz Khulm, 1 1 1 

Kurrachee, 138 

Kurum Valley, 181, 183, 309 

Kusmore, 59, 60, 137.; embank- 
ment at, 155 

Lahore, 97 ; durbar at, 95 
Lalloo, 81 

Lansdowne, Lord, 289, 297 ; his 

decision to withdraw troops 

from Mekran, 301 
Las Jowain, 286 
Lawrence, George, 68 
Lawrence, Sir Henry, 13; his 

administration of Oude, 17 ; 

Life of, 66 
Lawrence, Sir John, Viceroy of 



India, 62, 71 ; Life of, 66; his 

tribute to John Nicholson, 67 ; 

character of his policy, 84, 87, 

92, 103 ; on the proposal to 

occupy Quetta, 91 
Lessar, 214, 216, 266 
Lindsay, Colonel, his construction 

of the Bolan Railway, 232, 241, 

Loodiana, 32 
Looshaies, the, 282 
St. Louis, 1 17 

Louise Margaret Bridge, 257 
Louisville, 117 
Lovett, 24 
Lovventhal, Mr., 51 
Luck, General, 189, 312 
Luck, Mrs., 321 
Lucknovv, siege of, 20 
Ludhiana, 66 

Lumsden, Sir Harry, 33, 66, 68 ; 
his attack on the Wuzeerees, 
37 ; on a treaty with the hill 
tribes, 85 ; in charge of the 
delimitation of Afghan territory, 
267 ; his death, 350 

Lumsden, Captain Peter, 34 

Lund Khwar, 44 

Luristan tribes, 287 

Lus Beyla, 294, 296 

Lytton, Lord, Viceroy of India, 
132 ; his preparations for his 
duties, 133; at Calcutta, 135; 
extract from his Memoirs, 135 ; 
his policy, 158; various mea- 
sures, 158, 159, 212; his mis- 
sion to Shere Ali, 172, 179; 
withdraws it, 180; preparations 
for war, 180; his policy towards 
Afghanistan, 201 ; recalled, 208 ; 
his views against the with- 
drawal from Candahar, 208 ; 
result of his rule, 211; his 
system of administration in the 
wilder frontier districts, 212; 
his views on the employment 
of natives as middlemen, 338 

Mackeson, Lieut.-Colonel, 66 ; 
his qualities, 67 

Macpherson, Sir Herbert, in com- 
mand of the contingent to Egypt, 
216, 219; in charge of the opera- 
tions against the King of Burma, 

Madras, system of irrigation, 


Mahabun Mountain, 73 
Mahsood Wuzeerees, 32, 288 
Mahuta, 223 
Maimana, m 

Maiwand, defeat of the British 
at, 206 

Makeen, 38 

Malakand, 309 

Manderson, 24 

Manipur, 282 

Mant, 24 

Margelan, 177 

Mastung, 146 

Matabele war, 282 

Mayo, Lord, Viceroy of India, 104; 
his measures for the develop- 
ment, 107, 116; policy with 
Shere Ali, 109 ; relations with 
Russia, 109; his assassination, 

McNally, Mr. 326 

McQueen, Sir John, 51 

Mecca, 149 

Meeanee, 139 

Meerut, mutiny at, 18 

Mekran, 139, 295 ; withdrawal 

from, 301 
Mekranees, 300 

Merewether, Sir William, 127, 
138; Commissioner of Scinde, 
141 ; appointed to the Indian 
Council, 141 ; character of his 
policy, 329 

Merv, 87, 214, 216; advance of 
Russia, 229, 236; taken by the 
Russians, 266 

Meshed, 285 

Metcalfe, Lord, 16 



Mir Mahmud Khan, installed Khan 

of Khelat, 299, 311 
Mirunzyes, 282 
Mohamrah, 285 
Mohmunds, 309 

Moles worth, Sir Guilford, 120, 

156, 216 
Moncrieff, Scott, 227, 246 
Montreal, 117 
Mooltan, 156, 164, 184 
Moonshee Azimoolla, 14 
Moosa Kheyls, 59 
Muchi Bhawan, fort of, 20 
Mud Gorge, 245, 257 
Muddar Kheyls, 77 
Muir, Major, 295 
Mukkur, 149, 170 
Mullazyes, 77 
Murghab, 87, 267 
Muridki, 281 

Murrees, 59, 140, 168, 333 

Nagpore, 214 
Namaz Jenaza, rite of, 175 
Napier, Lord, of Magdala, 2, 
26, 103 

Napier» Sir Charles, 138, 139 
Nari Gorge, 244, 255 ; River, 

Naushirwanees, 295 
Nebraska, 117 

New York, 117; the East River 
Railway suspension bridge at, 

Nicholson, John, 20, 66 ; tribute 
to, 67 

Nicholson, Sir W. G., 187 215, 

Nightingale, Florence, 10 
Nigul Bridge, 100 
Noor Deen, 145 

Norman, Sir Henry, member of 
the Indian Council, 160 

Northbrook, Lord, Viceroy of 
India, 124; his policy, 126; re- 
signation, 127 

Nowakilla, 72, 82 

Nowshera, 59, 281 
Nushki, 273 

O'Callaghan, Mr., 248 
Omaha, 117 

Orakzais, the, 42, 282, 309 
Orloff, 136 

Oude, annexation of, 12, 15 
Oude, King of, at Calcutta, 16 
Outram, Sir James, 138; his 

scheme for the administration 

of Oude, 16 
Oxus, 87, no, III 

Palmer, Mr. Edward, 220 ; shot, 

Palmerston, Lord, his view of 
Russia's policy, 109, 135, 161, 

Palosin, 36 

Panjgur, 32 

Panjtar, 45 

Pashino, 176 

Pathans, character of the, 40, 41 
Patna, 125 ; fanatical centre at, 69 
Peiwar Kotul, 183 ; captured, 184, 

Pelly, Sir Lewis, 129, 160, 168 
Penjdeh, conflict at, 268 
Permuli, 78 

Persia, 286; war with, 17 

Persian Gulf, 284 

Peshawur, 40, 60, 281 ; fanaticism 

of tribes, 42 ; British mission at, 

179, 180 

Pesheen, 151, 187, 198; Plateau, 

233. 257 
Petro-Alexandrovosk, 177 
Phayre, Sir R., 127; in command 

of the frontier of Scinde, 141 
Philadelphia, 117 
Phillips, Mr., 254 
Pierson, Mr. Charles, 5 
Pierson, William Henry, 5, 157 ; 

his death, 210 
Pittsburg, 117 
Plasker, Mr. Van, 5 



Plassey, centenary of, 14, 18 

Pollard, Captain, 33 

Port Said, 219 

Prendergast, Sir Harry, 270 

Puhlwan, or wrestler, 52 

Pul-i-Khatun, 268 

Punjab, annexation of, 8, 13; 
change in the system of ad- 
ministration, 65, 85 ; system of 
irrigation, 96; defects in the 
system of administration, 337 

Puthankote, 98 

Quetta, 164 ; proposal to occupy, 
91 ; occupied by troops, 147 ; 
fort, 170, 187 ; incorporated into 
British Indian territory, 217; 
defence of the frontier, 272 ; 
durbars at, 299, 311, 320 

Quetta Hills, 137 

Rae Hitta Ram, 294 
Ravee, 33 note, 97 
Rawlinson, Sir Henry, 89, 91 
Reay, Lord, opens the bridge at j 

Sukkur, 122 
Rechna, 33 note 
Rendel, Sir Alexander, 121 
Rescht, 285 

Rhodes. Cecil, his settlement of 

Rhodesia, 282 
Rhodesia, settlement of, 282 
Richie, Mr., 326 

Ripon, Lord, his award in the 
Alabama case, 117; appointed 
Viceroy of India, 208, 214; his 
Ilbert Bill, 231 ; character of his 
administration, 231 ; instruc- 
tions, 235 

Roberts, Field-Marshal Earl, 159, 
181 ; his memorandum on 
frontier questions, 159; occupies 
the Khost district, 184; seizes 
the Shuturgurdun, 184; his 
advance against Cabul, 205 ; 
march on Candahar, 207 ; at 
the opening of the Chuppur 1 

Bridge, 262 ; summoned from 
Madras, 269 ; Commander-in- 
chief in India, 271 ; his Black 
Mountain expedition, 283 

Rochester Cathedral, memorial 
tablet to Sir J. Browne, 35 1 

Rohri, 120 

Roorkee, 31, 95, 162 

Rose, Sir Hugh, 21, 82 

Rosebery, Lord, his inspection of 
the Hurnai Railway, 262 

Runjeet Singh, 44 ; his prediction, 

Russia, aggressive movements of, 
41, 50, 70, 103; policy of 
"Masterly Inactivity" towards, 
87-90 ; annexation of Samarkand 
and the Zarafshan Valley, 112; 
relations with Shere Ali, 133 ; 
hostile measures against Turkey, 
134; policy, 135; war with 
Turkey, 156, 159; advances in 
Afghanistan, 160 ; proposals for 
an alliance, 161 ; intrigues with 
Shere Ali, 176; secret treaty 
with England, 183; withdrawal 
from Afghanistan, 183 ; advance 
on Merv, 214, 216, 229, 236; 
takes possession of it, 266 ; 
advance to Penjdeh, 268 

Russia's March towards India, 
176 note 

Russo-Afghan boundary, demarca- 
tion of the, 268 
Ruzmuk Pass, 39 

Sado Khan, 200, 343 
Saidu, 44 

Salisbury, Lord, Secretary of State 
for India, 127 ; at the Confer- 
ence at Constantinople, 158; 
accepts office, 269 ; character 
of his policy, 269 

Salurzyes, 77 

Samarkand, 177 ; annexation of, 
1 12 

Sandeman, Sir Robert, 113, 127; 



at Beloochistan, 139; appointed 
Governor-General's Agent, 144; 
his influence with the Khan of 
Khelat, 154; relations with Sir 
James Browne, 165 ; his escort 
of Kakurs, 182 ; death, 277, 
281, 296 ; his administration 
of Beloochistan, 293 ; trip to 
England, 295 ; at Lus Beyla, 
296 ; memorial window to, 

San Francisco, 117 
San Stefano, treaty of, 160, 161, 

Sankey, Colonel, 188 

Sarakhs, 267, 285 

Sayad Ahmad Shah of Bareilly, 
44, 45 ; his career, 44-47 

Scinde, 144 ; conquest of, 8 ; sys- 
tem of irrigation, 96 ; relations 
with Beloochistan, 329-331 

Scott, Colonel Buchanan, 257, 287, 

Scythia, 139 

Sealkote 97 

Sebastopol, 284 

Seistan, 88, 198, 285 ; its position, 

Sepoys, disaffection of the, 14; 

mutiny, 17; General Service 

Act, 19 
Seton, A. R., 24 
Sewalik Hills, 98 
Sharigh, 244 
Shawl, 88 

Sheil, Sir Justin, 89, 91 
Sheoranees, 59 

Sher Singh, the Sikh general, 

Sheranee tribe, 295 
Sherdurra, 78 

Shere Ali, Ameer of Afghanistan, 
103, 104 ; his interview with 
Lord Mayo, 108 ; correspond- 
ence with Kaufmann, 131 ; 
alienation from England, 134; 
relations with Russia, 134; 

summons Ishmael Ali to Cabul, 

171 ; mission from Lord Lytton 

172 ; loss of his son Abdulla 
Jan, 178 ; war with England 
179; leaves for Russia, 185; 
his death, 193 

Shiberghan, ill 
Shikarpore, 138 
Shingul, 290 

Shouvaloff, Count, no, 133 
Shuturgurdun, 181 ; seized by the 

British, 184, 192 
Siazgaie Hill, 198 
Sibi, 136, 165, 232, 241, 243 
Sikhs, rule of the, 46 
Sikkim, 282 
Simla, 157 
Simonivitch, 136 
Sinai Peninsula, 220 
Sir-i-kul, ill 
Siripul, 11 1 

Sitana, Wahabee fanatics at, 

Skipwith, 24 

Skobeleff, 175 ; his scheme for the 

invasion of India, 176 
Slavery, abolition of, 128 
Smith, Captain Manners, 321 
Stephen, Fitzjames, 133 
Stewart, Sir Donald, 181 ; at 

Dadur, 186; joins the force, 187 ; 

march through Candahar, 189; 

withdraws from Khelat-i-Ghilzie, 

193 ; his memorandum on the 

Candahar question, 195-197; 

his character, 211 ; his interest 

in the Hurnai Railway, 262 ; 

joins the Council in London, 264 
Stokes, Sir George, 210 
Stoletoff, 176; at Cabul, 178 
Strachey, Sir Richard, 168 
Stratton, Captain, 312, 321 
Suez, 221 ; Canal, 219 
Sukkur, 136, 137; designs for the 

bridge at, 120-122; opened, 


Suliman range, 35, 138, 198 




Sullivan, Mr., 253 
Sutlej, 66 
Swat, 45, 309 
Swatees, 77 

Syud Allum, Tajik of Uchter- 
kheyl, his statement on the 
Mullah of Mukkur, 342-345 

Tank, 33 
Tashkent, 284 

Taylor, Colonel Alexander, 49, 66, 
209 ; on Sir James Browne's 
method of constructing the 
Bara Bridge, 57, 58; Chief 
Engineer in the Umbeyla cam- 
paign, 72 

Taylor, Colonel Reynell, 72 

Taylor, Mr., Commissioner at 
Patna, 125 

Teheran, 285 

Tejend oasis, 241, 266 

Tel-el-Kebir, 219; battle of, 

Temple, Sir Richard, Governor of 
Bombay, 232 ; his survey for 
the construction of the Hurnai 
Railway, 233 ; report, 234 ; Men 
and Events of my Time in 
India, 66 

Temple, Major, Political Agent 
of Khelat, 312, 321, 325 

Thul Chotiali, 195, 197 

Tochi Valley, 309 

Tomkins, Colonel, 270 

Topee, Tantia, executed, 1, 21, 

Tours, 6 

Traki Pass, 288 

Trans-Caspian Railway, 284 

Trevor, Edward, 24 

Tukht-i-pul, 87, 189 

Turkey, hostile measures of 
Russia, 134; war with, 156, 

Turner, General, 81 
Umar Khan, 288 

Umballa, 32 ; durbar at, 104 
Umbeyla Pass, 72 ; campaign, 73- 
83 ; position of the British 
troops, 77 ; number of the 
tribes, 77 
Umritsur, 97 

United States, abolition of slavery, 


Unkiar-Skelessi, treaty of, 136 

Utah, 117 

Utman Kheyls, 309 

Vambery, Dr., 89 
Vaughan, Sir Luther, 61 
Vibart, 24 
Vicars, Hedley, 10 
Victoria, Queen, proclaimed Em- 
press of India, 153, 158 
Vikovitch, 136 

Wahabees, 50, 69, 125 
Wakhan, in 

Wales, Prince of, his visit to 

India, 124 
Wali Shere Ali, Khan, temporary 

governor of Candahar, 201, 

Wana, 295 

Warren, Sir Charles, 129 
Wheeler, Sir Hugh, 19 
Whiteman, Captain, 5 ; director 
of the East India Company, 


Wilson, Mr., 25 
Wilson, Sir Charles, 227 
Wolff, Sir H. D., 285 
W T olseley, General, in command 

of the Egyptian campaign, 


Wuzeerabad, 281 

Wuzeerees, campaign against, 32 ; 

their characteristics, 35 ; attacks 

on, 36, 37 
Wyllie, his Essays on the External 

Policy of India, extract from, 




Yakoob Khan, 108 ; appointed 
Regent, 185; succeeds to the 
throne, 193 

Zagazig, 219, 220, 223 ; seizure 
of, 225 

Zanzibar, Sultan of, his treaty 

abolishing slavery, 129 
Zanzibar, traffic in slaves, 129 

Zarafshan Valley, annexation of, 

Zelenoi, General, 267 
Zeyda, Khan of, 44 
Zhob, 198, 282 ; River, 287 ; Valley, 

Ziarat, 307, 333 
Zibi, 307 
I Zulika, 343 

Printed by Haaell, Watson <S* Vtney, Ld., London and Aylesbury 

BlPSDf^G SECT, utu *y tat i 

DS Irmas, James John McLeod 

479 The life and times of 

.1 General Sir James Brox/ne